Studio Gallery Owner faces potential prosecution if failure to remove road sign.
'Oxfordshire County Council's Highway Liason Officer has expressed the opinion that they are detrimental to road safety.'
...Letter served for my sign as shown here...
South Oxfordshire District Councillor Official stated 23rd July 2010...
"If your Business relies upon having a sign on the road, then it's not much of a Business then is it?"
Parish Councillor on 15th July 2009...
A woman took it upon herself to casually come into my premesis with no identification, claimed to be a Parish Councillor and incorrectly and independently stated...
"I've come to tell you to REMOVE your sign and if you don't, I'M on the Parish Council and I have power to remove it MYSELF!"
I naturally replied: "I assume you'll be visiting everyone else in the area to give them the same ticking off? What about the signs on the Common for example?"
to which she replied: "Well no, that's Common Law land"
And when asked regarding another similar sign within 2 feet of mine, stated...
"Well, that's only on a weekend"
...implying they condone some but not others, leaving me wondering what is the difference between weekend signs and me having mine out for an additional 25 hours per week? I understand there may be rules and regulations but I disagree with the Council's inconsistencies where some are condoned and others are penalised.
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Statement from CJ Holding
'As the Owner of The Studio Gallery, Manor Farm, Peppard Common, it saddens me greatly that my local Council would prefer to serve me notice of potential prosecution, rather than support me as a local, small independent business… all for the sake of a harmless and un-obtrusive directional sign?
Even more surprising is their reason; stating “it is detrimental to road safety”. (?!)
Ironically, road safety was in fact my main consideration and the reason why I began to put a sign out in the first place. Like The Lamb at Satwell, I too am invisible to anybody driving by and I felt my separate directional sign served an important purpose. Passing trade is also important as I’m not in a visible high street location, but like the Herb Farm, people seek me out.
Numerous Clients were telling me ‘You need a sign on the road’ and were forever telling me of how lost they’d been around the country lanes as a result of me NOT having a sign. Sat Nav’s direct you to the wrong location, and although numerically listed on the equally essential main entrance sign, they expected something more.
Thus, with road safety in mind I purposefully designed my sign to be WEIGHTED so that even in a hurricane, there’s no risk of it ever blowing into the road or being a hazard. The last thing I would ever wish for is to cause a road traffic accident due to my sign.
In additional consideration to fellow local residents and councils, I made the conscientious effort to religiously bring my - (very heavy!) – sign in, every single day, without fail, for three years, thus only putting it out for 6.5 hours a day during my business hours of 10.00am – 4.30pm, Monday – Saturday.
It’s clearly not even the case that ‘if I start doing it then the rest will follow’, as 3 years on there’s not 17 signs outside Manor Farm and I have tried my utmost not to make the village or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty look unsightly.
It did not cause any visual obstruction, was not on a pedestrian right of way, was not on the road and contrary to a Councillor Official who told me recently “If your Business relies upon having a sign on the road, then it’s not much of a business then is it?!”… I wanted to help disgruntled Clients from being confused as to WHY I had no sign and thus kept getting lost. I may be a young business woman, working hard to help our economy, local community and causes, but I find this was a somewhat concerning, unnecessary and unsupportive comment from someone representing my local Council - whom I’d prefer to look up to for their help and support. It’s such a shame in these times that people cannot be more accommodating considering other more pressing issues.
Back in July 2008 a woman, with no ID, saying she was on the Parish Council came to tell me to ‘remove my sign otherwise she had the power, and was going to remove it herself’. Yet when I asked her whether all of the others in the surrounding area and village Common were also going to be removed, she said “Well no, that’s Common Law land”, and regarding one sign in particular she said “Well that’s only there on a weekend”.
I’m still at a loss as to fathom what logic this illustrates, and I fail to understand how one can be condoned for 14 hours yet not mine for an additional 25 hours per week?
There had been no complaint; she simply expressed her own opinion saying “you’ve had enough of your free advertising”.
(I may be wrong, but I also understand it that Parish Councillors do NOT infact have the legal "powers" she claimed she had, to simply make such statements like those she made towards two years ago??!!)
Now I’m told that there has apparently been one single mystery complaint (of which i've been refused to see it) made about my sign and thus warrants serving me this notice on 22nd July 2010, when ironically I’d found a lot more than one complained to me when I didn’t have my sign??!! Confused?!
I care for my surroundings and the environment a lot more than the average person and the core of my entire Business revolves around providing my Clients with products and services that are environmentally sourced from sustainable resources at every possible opportunity.
In the past 6 months alone I’ve raised or donated over £5,000 to different charities including ‘Help for Heroes’, ‘Babes in Arms’ research into Cot death, and others, and I am currently in the process of setting up a Charity myself ~ 'The Angel Trust', for which I’d like to look to the Councils for their help and support in the future, as I plan to raise funds towards many Local, as well as International causes.
Simply, there are more important things in life to feel concerned about. I'm a peaceful person just trying to earn a living and trying to achieve something more meaningful with my life. I'm a young entrepreneur in the early years of my 'fledgling' Business, and with many more business years ahead of me, I'm sure this almost trivial issue will soon fade into insignificance, after all, we're stuck in a 'System' that's almost impossible to change, we've just got to get on with it.
As I say, there's more important things to worry about in this world and we should feel blessed to live the life we live.
To anyone who feels tirelessly upset over a small sign like mine; I implore you to spare a thought for the people that own them.'
However, I do sincerely apologise to my Local Councillors, fellow Local Residents, my Landlord and passersby, for any offense or detrimental effect I’ve caused by having my sign and I have since removed it to avoid my prosecution.'