Anger as trader faces £2,500 street ad fine
BUSINESESS have hit out at the city council after a new independent trader was threatened with a £2,500 fine over a small sign advertising his business.
Stuart White, 32, recently opened The Happy Fish Company in Canford Lane, Westbury-onTrym.
His shop sits just behind a bus stop so Mr White attached a four-foot sign advertising the name of the shop and its phone number.
The family-run shop had only been open one week when Mr White received a notice from the council.
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The letter told him someone had complained about the sign and that it needed to be removed by January 31 or he would receive a £2,500 fine.
But although Mr Hall now realised he should have applied for planning permission before putting up the sign he is upset at the way he has been treated.
"I've never had a shop before, as previously I was just a mobile business," he said. "The sign just said the shop was a family-run fishmonger which can come to you and included our phone number.
"The letter came just a week after I had opened the shop. It made me angry – it was really discouraging when I had just been trying to make a go of it.
"Lots of local people have been coming in saying how great the shop is for the area, so I can't understand why if one person complains it means I have to take the sign down.
"I know now that I should have applied for planning permission but I'd just started out.
"Surely someone from the council could have just come round and explained the situation, this letter seems heavy-handed."
Mr White is being supported by the Westbury-on-Trym Business Association, a collection of more than 40 businesses set up in June 2011 to rejuvenate the area for local people.
Chairman Roy Pepworth told The Post: "Stuart is a young man who has just started an independent family-run business.
"Surely the council should be rewarding this entrepreneurial spirit, not sending threatening letters just a week after he has opened. We are supporting him all the way – it's unusual to have a fresh fish shop and it's a brilliant addition to Westbury.
"I think the letter came as an awful shock to the guy. Starting a business from scratch costs a lot of money and this is the last thing he needs."
A council spokesman said: "Bristol City Council planning enforcement officers contacted this business after receiving a complaint from a resident that the installation of an advert at first-floor level on the side of 16 Canford Lane was harmful to the visual amenity of local residents.
"Having visited the site, officers wrote to the business owner to advise that the sign required advert consent and that an initial view indicated that the sign was unacceptable under the Advertisement Regulations 2007.
"The business owner was asked to remove the sign by the end of January. However, following a review, officers are offering the owner the opportunity to submit an application to retain two of the signs on the building (one of the three signs does not require consent).
"This will allow the property owner, local residents and other interested parties to comment on the matter and for the council to make a formal decision on the acceptability of the two signs. Council officers have written to the business owner today to explain the situation.
"While the local authority remains committed to supporting local businesses, it has an obligation to respond to the concerns of local residents and to meet its statutory duties as set down in national legislation."