This letter from our Chairman Steve Butler obviously made a difference in the publishing circles! We’ve had a great article published in the Ilkley Gazette of 2nd March 2017 as a result:


Dear Sir

A-Board Ban Proposals

Bradford MDC have spent years researching the best way to tackle “problems” with A-Boards. A recent FOI request has disclosed that the “problems” have been blown totally out of proportion. In the four years before the ban was started there were no personal injuries involving A-Boards at all; there were only 20 complaints about them causing obstructions (by 19 individuals), and most of them (5 out of 20) were in Keighley. Despite this the ban was tried out in Saltaire (only 1 complaint); Leeds Road (1), Ilkley (3) and the City Centre (0). The decision not to include Keighley was right because A-Boards are vital to promoting small businesses there, just as they are everywhere. Firms would not buy them, and carry them around every morning and evening, if they were no good. The other thing which the FOI request disclosed is that there have been almost 3,000 complaints about other sorts of highway obstruction – 150 times as many complaints as about A-Boards. And yet the Council has not made a blanket ban about those. It is true that the blind and partially sighted fear that A-Boards are “an accident waiting to happen” but fortunately the facts show that this is a misapprehension. I imagine that other less vocal disability groups, for example the deaf or those with learning difficulties who would find difficulty asking for directions, actually find A-Boards to be very useful to guide them away from the main streets towards good local shops. There are two sides to every argument. The role of the local authority is to look at both sides and then to act in a proportionate manner for the sake of all the citizens of its area. The effect of the ban has been to cause some businesses in Ilkley, all of which employ staff with families of their own, to lose tens of thousands of profits, putting the jobs of their employees at risk. This is not a proportionate response to only three complaints in four years. The new proposal to licence A-Boards is certainly worth considering but it would be wrong to have one policy for the whole of CBMDC. The Council should be willing to work with A-Board users, on an area by area basis, to decide the best policy for each town. It is to be hoped that the Council will take an objective look at the real facts about A-Boards and consider the severe economic consequences of their ban. A-Boards can be used responsibly for the benefit of the consumers, employees and employers at the businesses which rely on them, and of rate-payers generally.

Yours faithfully

Steve Butler

Chairman

Ilkley Business Forum