A BEWILDERED trader has been ordered to take down 20-year-old shop signs in a move that has been dubbed ridiculous by hundreds of residents who have rushed to support him.
A Facebook page for Plumbits in North Walls has been deluged with comments from townsfolk calling for Stafford Borough Council to “see sense”.
And an online petition calling for the signs to be saved has so far attracted more than 100 signatures.
The storm began when Plumbits, which has been in the town for 29 years, was slapped with a letter last week from Stafford Borough Council.
The letter followed a complaint from a solicitors firm about the size and number of signs at the site and told owner Andy Wheeler he needed advertisement consent for all 10 signs.
It told Mr Wheeler to submit a retrospective advertisement consent application with a fee of £110 within 14 days or take them down.
The letter also stated: “My enforcement team will continue to monitor your case and formal enforcement action, which may lead to prosecution will be considered should you neither submit an application or remove the unauthorised signs within the specified time period.”
Mr Wheeler said: “What has annoyed me the most
is that the council didn’t come to me directly and speak to me. We had this letter, which was quite threatening out of the blue. The signs have been there 20 years and all of a sudden there is one complaint and now we are a victim.
“We have been here 29 years. I started the business from nothing. But it would be quite easy for me to relocate to Aston Fields as we have a depot there and that would be another business lost in the town centre.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support from the public on Facebook and the petition and would like to thank everyone. We are now taking legal advice.”
Stafford Borough Council has since apologised to Mr Wheeler for not speaking to him before sending the letter.
A spokesman said: “A local solicitors brought the signage to our attention and we have to investigate because if we don’t we’d face potentially costly action ourselves from the local government ombudsman especially as some of the signage does breach national regulations. We apologise to Mr Wheeler because normally we would have spoken to him first and on this occasion we didn’t.”
One resident Richard Moseley said: “I helped to make the signs 20 years ago. It is ridiculous.”
Another resident Mark Mercer added: “The signs are doing no harm and how is a business meant to make people aware it is there and offers a service?”