Traders are being thanked for playing their part in helping improve access to one of the major shopping streets in Worthing town centre.
Worthing Borough Council began a pilot scheme in September aimed at reducing ‘street clutter’ in Warwick Street. This was following complaints from shoppers and wheelchair users that they were unable to get from A to B due to the amount of street furniture in the road.
In order to maintain access for all, local businesses were asked to apply for a licence to place items like A-Boards and outdoor seating in the public highway.
After all but three businesses in Warwick Street signed up to the self-funding scheme, access to the pedestrianised street has been dramatically improved.
Enforcement action is now being considered against those firms without a licence, which will see the removal of items belonging to non-compliant firms and potential fines of up to £1,000.
Council leaders will also look to roll out the pilot to other areas in the town from March.
Councillor Diane Guest, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “I know as a local business owner how important items like A-Boards and outdoor eating areas play in boosting trade and improving the vibrancy of our town centre.
“However, this cannot be done without thought to the very people that use the shops.
“While this scheme has not been universally popular, the result has been overwhelmingly positive – not only improving the appearance to one of the town’s major shopping streets, but making it a lot easier for everyone to access it.
“It’s disappointing that a small number of firms still refuse to sign up to the scheme which gives us no option but to enforce the laws.
“However, we will be rolling the scheme out across the town from March onwards, and are already beginning to receive unprompted applications from new businesses to the area.”
The powers to license street furniture used to belong to West Sussex County Council. But the scheme was not widely promoted or enforced, meaning just two firms in the whole of Worthing paid for permission to place items on the highway.
Worthing Borough Council took on the powers earlier this year – and pledged to work with businesses to ensure that the scheme is priced and enforced fairly.
Costs for the first year for an advertising board will start from £106.50 – or just over £2 a week – with the fee dropping to just £80.50 in the second. Prices for tables and chairs are more expensive and calculated on the amount of highway used.
Teams from the council regularly contacted every business in the street to make sure they are aware of the changes and talk them through the changes.
The scheme is entirely self-funding with all of the monies raised covering the administration costs.