Mixed reaction to street clutter rules
Winners and losers in a street goods clampdown at Cromer began to emerge this week as officials talked to traders about new rules looming this winter.For some, with narrow pavements outside, it is likely to mean losing tables, chairs, goods and advertisements which they say are vital to their trade.
Winners and losers in a street goods clampdown at Cromer began to emerge this week as officials talked to traders about new rules looming this winter.
For some, with narrow pavements outside, it is likely to mean losing tables, chairs, goods and advertisements which they say are vital to their trade.
But others, on streets with paths widened during regeneration, the outlook is brighter - though they will have to pay to get permission.
A session to explain the new licensing system, which comes into force on January 1, was held at the town's community centre this week and was attended by 45 businesses.
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North Norfolk District Council licensing officer Tony Gent said “there will be some casualties, but they are few and far between.”
And he said it was a positive meeting where “even those who are losers realise why.”
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The new rules seek to increase public safety on the paths, by calling for 2m clearance, as well as tidying up the street scene.
Mr Gent stressed the laws had been in force for many years, and the new system was just seeking to find a “happy medium” in allowing traders to trade and maintaining public safety.
After a year-long trial at Cromer it was also planned to introduce the scheme to other towns across north Norfolk.
It was now down to businesses to make their applications, so it was clear which goods were permitted and which not by the New Year start of the scheme.
And Mr Gent suggested businesses should look at working with each other to investigate joint signposting at the end of side streets - either on an A board where it was wide enough or a wall-mounted, if building landlords gave permission.
Chamber of trade president Sue Brown said the rules would make the town safer, but felt it would not enhance the seaside town atmosphere or the café culture regeneration was seeking to encourage.
A minority of traders would lose displays, but she hoped officers would help businesses find viable alternatives to replace objects that were considered dangerous.
Butcher Icarus Hines's Fat George plastic figure was the forefront of a successful traders' campaign which fought off an earlier bid by officials to sweep goods off the streets, resulting in the current compromise system - with lower fees and more flexibility.
Mr Hines, who will have to seek permission for his outside chiller cabinets, felt the 2m pavement width demanded should be halved - which was more realistic with most town centre paths, and left enough room for a wheelchair.
Amy's Sweet Shop boss Peter Gibson, who set up in West Street this year, said he was barred from having an advertising board at the end of the street, which had helped bring in customers - and was not sure how that would hit trade.
In the same street West Street café owners Dawn and Clint Butler were certain their trade would be hit if they lost their outside tables, which were popular with pet owners and smokers.
“These things add life to the town. We pay business rates but don't get any help,” added Mrs Butler.
Are you affected by the new rules? Write with your views on the street goods system to Letters, North Norfolk News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR11RE or e-mail email@example.com.