Council brings in new pavement safety rules

New rules are being introduced by a local council to control safety when businesses are putting out signs and goods on pavements.

A licensing system is being introduced by Middlesbrough Council after receiving many complaints and compensation claims involving pedestrians tripping over signs.

It means traders will now have to apply to the council for a licence before they can site things on footpaths. The council’s executive councillor for transport, Charlie Rooney, approved the system which will be introduced in the forthcoming months. He along with Brian Glover, the council’s head of transport and design, said it would mean adopting a proactive approach rather than just dealing with complaints, as all the current system allows.

Mr Glover said that the council would take a measured approach to applications for licences. He said: “We will do a risk assessment and there will be consultation before we come to a conclusion on applications. The consultation will include the views of organisations representing people with disabilities.”

Under the new scheme, successful applications for licences will be required to meet at 18 basic requirements. Some of these saying that advertising boards may no longer be allowed to be placed in areas with high numbers of pedestrians such as near schools or near to main transport facilities. Another requirement is that all items to be placed on pathways are to be presented in an attractive and professional manner.

Traders will not be pleased about the cost involved for them when the new scheme comes into practice. The cost of an application for a licence for advertising boards will be £48, due to an inspection fee. The cost for an application for a licence for goods in a display area under five square metres will be £48, and £96 for an area above five square metres. All applications will also incur a fee of £35 for administration.

In a report by Ian Parker, the council’s environment director, he said: “The council has a duty to protect the public from dangers. By not taking any action in considering the risk to persons inuring themselves on private signs and goods placed on the highway the council could be seen as failing in its duty of care.”

He went on to add that the scheme was a way of the council trying to assist businesses as they try to enhance sales, by balancing the hazards with the desires to advertise and display goods.

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