Footpath policy leaves shop owners scratching heads
PRINCE St business owners have claimed they were caught off guard this week by Clarence Valley Council rangers on a sweep of the CBD enforcing footpath signage regulations.
Low Pressure Surf Co owner Noel Smith said rangers told him his A-frame sign out the front of his store was not compliant with regulations, and needed a border around it or risk a $564 fine.
"I was told it was for the protection of people with a vision impairment and I had to put a border around the sign," he said.
"I thought it was a bit extreme and heavy handed, it would have been good to have some notice. The enforcement around these regulations have been inconsistent, it's confusing.
"It's a tough environment in retail as it is without having this confusing regulation on what we can and can't have on the footpath, and where we can and can't place it."
Council's environment, development and strategic planning manager Adam Cameron said the Vibrant Places initiative began as a trial in 2018 was officially adopted by Council in December 2019.
Vibrant Places is about activating commercial centres in the Clarence Valley.
"Businesses can place merchandise, outdoor dining, A-frame signs on footpaths without paying a fee," Mr Cameron said.
"However, they must consider the safety and wellbeing of all users, including those with visual and physical impairments, ensuring a common sense safety approach.
"The emphasis is on businesses to collaborate to create inviting spaces for customers and community. If there is a complaint from the community the rangers will investigate and discuss options with the business.
"The handover of Prince Street from RMS control to Council, and change in traffic flow due to the new bridge, provides the opportunity to work with businesses to redesign the street and introduce innovative solutions.
"This planning is proposed to commence in the 2020/21 financial year, subject to adoption of the current draft budget."