From the business desk: A-board assault course leads to controversial regulation suggestion

W26306H13OliPoole''Business Picture. Worthing Herald Business Reporter, Oli Poole. ENGSUS00120130620162236

W26306H13OliPoole''Business Picture. Worthing Herald Business Reporter, Oli Poole. ENGSUS00120130620162236

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UNLESS it is quietly overtaking my subconscious mind, advertising rarely catches my attention.

Apart from the ‘Skip It’ jingle on Heart FM – one of those tunes which stubbornly sticks in your head – I would struggle to recall many recent advertisement campaigns.

The same goes for the controversial A-board, which is the centre of debate in Worthing this week.

A consultation will be launched next month to determine whether they should be licensed.

Negotiating the town centre has been akin to tackling an assault course at times, drawing complaints from disability groups and shoppers.

One pensioner also had a nasty accident tripping over a fallen A-board, leaving him with injuries he is still struggling with months later.

Whatever the result, it is entirely appropriate to have a conversation about their future use.

The consultation is likely to attract heated debate, with some traders fiercely opposed to A-board regulation.

While I cannot say I have ever been persuaded to pop into a shop as a result of an eye-catching A-board, some business owners argue many others are.

For shops off the beaten track, they can be effective signposts placed on the main thoroughfare.

Add in their low cost and it is easy to see why some are keen for things to stay as they are.

But on the other side of the coin, clearly the situation in Worthing has got a little out of hand.

As far back as last year, I was being sent pictures of the offending A-boards, blocking the streets like a police cordon. It has taken this long to finally see some action potentially taken.

Montague Street is shortly set for a major revamp and during the early design stages, the importance of keeping the street scene clutter-free was strongly emphasised.

The eclectic array of A-boards, in varying conditions, runs contrary to this ethos and, in my view, makes the town centre look scruffy.

With proper regulation, hopefully a ‘best of both worlds’ solution will be drawn up, balancing business needs with suitable controls to monitor their use.

An independent business guide being drawn up by the Town Centre Initiative will go some way towards mitigating the potential loss of some A-boards.