A ROW over a council purge on roadside signs in Northumberland is set to result in a more positive approach to rural businesses and community groups which need to advertise their services and events.
A storm of protests erupted last summer when county council officials ordered the removal of a number of adverts which businesses and local organisations had put up to attract vital customers, visitors and trade.
Rural farm enterprises, pubs, the annual Glanton Show and a village football club were among those threatened with enforcement action – or even prosecution – unless they took down the roadside signs and banners.
The widespread anger over the crackdown led to council chief executive Steve Stewart ordering an internal review.
The findings will be discussed by the executive next month with a view to agreeing a consistent policy across Northumberland. A report seeking the views of scrutiny committee members next week says there is a difficult challenge in striking a balance between supporting rural enterprises and protecting Northumberland’s natural assets against unsightly clutter.
But the review has concluded that the council should adopt a “positive approach” to advertising signs to help support businesses and community groups.
North area development manager Peter Rutherford says this is conditional on adverts not compromising public safety on the roads or damaging local amenity.
The row erupted in July after The Journal revealed how the owners of the award-winning, 32-job Country Barn farm and coffee shop at Widdrington near Morpeth were ordered to take down four signs telling customers and visitors how to find them.