Frustrated Harpenden man speaks out about ‘dangerous’ A-boards in town centre


A-board - Credit: Archant

A frustrated pedestrian is calling on businesses to move their “dangerous” advertising boards because they pose a hazard to blind and partially sighted people.

Roland Box is speaking out about the stand-alone heavy frames which are put up outside businesses to attract potential custom, commonly called A-boards, and has focused his attention on Harpenden.

The pensioner says they cause an obstruction: “They block the pavement and they can’t be seen by blind people. They are dangerous for them and in some cases are on a third of a six foot wide pavement around the town centre.

“Quite frankly I can’t see what the commercial benefit of them is - the shop is there, why need an A-board?”

Roland described an avoidable incident in Southdown last October: “It was unfortunate that the wind caught the A-board and blew it into a woman’s leg, knocking her over - a couple of people rushed over to help her and she picked herself up, dusted down and walked away again - but it could have been a serious ambulance call to hospital.

“I am sure that people don’t realise when they put them out that they can be dangerous.”

Roland recently took a walking survey of Harpenden and found nearly 70 A-boards around the town centre

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He wants to raise awareness of the challenges facing blind people in busy areas.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) are also currently running a campaign against pavement obstructions, called Who Put That There!. It says: “By their very nature A-boards obstruct pedestrians from being able to move in a straight line along the pavement. They present a trip and collision hazard, especially to people who cannot see them and who use mobility aids.”

Last May The City of Edinburgh Council banned all temporary on-street advertising structures, including A-boards.

Herts county council (HCC) is in charge of keeping pavements clear for pedestrians in Harpenden.

An HCC spokesperson said there is guidance for A-board use on their website and any concerns should be reported there: “Although businesses don’t need a licence to display an A-board, they must make sure that boards are the right size and they’re used safely.”

As Harpenden is a conservation area, businesses wishing to use A-boards must obtain consent from St Albans district council.