Edinburgh set for citywide advertising board ban

All temporary on-street advertising structures, including advertising boards (also known as ‘A’ Boards), are to be banned from streets across the city.

Members of Thursday's (17 May) Transport and Environment Committee voted unanimously for the ban, which aims to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility, particularly for those with disabilities such as sight impairments and mobility difficulties.
 
It will also provide clearer controls for businesses compared to the existing strategy, which only enforces a ban in some areas of the city and relates to advertising boards alone, as opposed to all temporary on-street advertising.
 
In order to support businesses following the implementation of the ban, the Council will work with traders to explore alternative and bespoke advertising solutions, with a drop-in event and dedicated web page planned to provide information and guidance. 
 
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “This ban, which has received broad cross-party support, is the right move toward creating accessible, good quality public spaces in Edinburgh.
 
“Reducing street clutter is essential to opening up our streets for all members of society, providing safe, welcoming walkways and removing obstructions, and the ban of temporary on-street advertising structures will make a real difference.
 
“We do, of course, recognise the impact this is likely to have on small businesses, so we will be working closely with all those concerned to provide information and advice, and to investigate alternative advertising solutions where possible.”
 
The decision to enforce a citywide ban follows a period of public consultation and engagement with stakeholders, including Living Streets, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Edinburgh Access Panel, along with various traders’ associations, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and community councils.  
 
Amongst feedback it was recognised that the city’s pavements should be as safe and accessible as possible, and that minimising temporary on-street advertising would make a significant contribution toward achieving this.
 
A spokesperson for sight loss charity RNIB Scotland said: "We welcome this move by the City of Edinburgh Council to make the capital's streets safer and more inclusive for residents and visitors with disabilities. It's something our Street Charter has been pressing for throughout the country. While we, of course, want business to prosper, our streets should not be an obstacle course to be negotiated."
 
Robin Wickes, Vice Chairman of the Edinburgh Access Panel, said: “Pavement clutter is a significant obstacle for disabled folk in Edinburgh. For wheelchair users and vision impaired people in particular navigating our streets is a real challenge, especially since many of our pavements are narrow and busy with visitors. Banning A-boards will remove a major barrier and help disabled people enjoy equality of access to Edinburgh's streets and pavements.”

Nicholas Hotham, head of external relations at Edinburgh World Heritage, said: "Edinburgh World Heritage is committed to reducing this clutter so that our world-class views and vistas can be better appreciated across the site. This ban on temporary advertising boards brings us closer to restoring Edinburgh's historic streetscape to a better state."

The introduction of the ban will coincide with several other initiatives to reduce street clutter like signage, bollards and bins, in connection with new Edinburgh Street Design Guidance information and a wayfinding strategy.
 
The ban, which is intended to be rolled out in late 2018, will be enforced by a dedicated team of officers for the first 12 to 18 months, who will ensure awareness and compliance. Following this period enforcement will be reviewed and tailored to suit resources.
 
Businesses will be informed of plans by letter in the coming weeks and a period of discussion will establish potential solutions for signage in harder to reach locations or for businesses who do not have on-street premises in advance of the ban. An update report will be returned to committee in 12 months.
 
Read the full report to Transport and Environment Committee, ‘A’ Boards and other Temporary on-street Advertising Structures, on the Council website.

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