Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce

Statement on MCC Street Furniture Policy

Monmouthshire Council Leader Peter Fox and Chief Executive Paul Matthews made the following statement on the County Council’s Facebook page today following concerns expressed by local businesses on social media:

“We’ve read the Facebook messages and the points made are fair. Traders in this County are serious sensible people and they play a massive role in the success of our Towns – without them we are lost. The policy around A Boards, Street furniture was agreed back in July 2016 after many months of deliberation. It was agreed well before anybody became aware of the madness being introduced to the rural trading community by the latest business rate revaluation exercise – an issue that we have been working hard on with local Chambers of Trade for months to lobby for change. It is NOT our goal to make life hard for traders and as such we are minded to ask Council to re-consider their approach in light of changed circumstances and in the meantime set aside aa policy that may be seen to frustrate trade. In doing so there are a couple of points to highlight.

1. It is doubtful that traders insurance does cover them for accidents caused by A Boards / street furniture. We would encourage them to check this. These accidents don’t happen very often but we live in a ‘claim mad world’ so please check your cover.

2. We want to have sensible conversations about the positioning of street furniture to ensure that pushchairs / wheelchairs can move easily around our towns without having to go onto the road. We know traders will want to help us with this.

3. Our time is better spent in continuing to work together on events / attractions that draw people to Monmouthshire rather than falling out with each other.

The money side is not material to the Council so there will be no charges to traders anywhere in Monmouthshire for the time being."

Chamber press statement on the charging for A boards issue

13.02.17

"I understand that several traders have expressed concern this last week about the new regime currently being imposed by MCC for A boards and tables and chairs and displays on the public highway.  At a time when higher business rates threaten for 2017/18 onwards the Chamber is sympathetic to some traders concerns about another cost to their business. However, it is important for those affected to understand the process that has been followed.

Since the charges were first proposed back in February 2014 we have worked closely with the county council to achieve a compromise solution that is fair to traders, the disabled and the county council themselves. There have been numerous meetings and countless press statements and letters on the matter.

Initially, we opposed the proposed charges and wrote to MCC Cabinet in December 2015 and secured a delay in which more consultation took place. On the issue of A boards, we secured a one-off charge of £50 rather than a registration fee and annual charge. Assuming an A board has a five-year life then the cost imposed by MCC is 20p per week. Also, a compromise on the proposed construction of A boards was reached in that A boards must now just have a stay to keep them rigid rather than solid opening sides.  We were also able to gain agreement for a licence fee arrangement for those exhibiting A boards on the main pubic highway a distance from their business premises. This benefits retailers in Beaufort and Swan courts and the Oldway Centre,  who otherwise would have had no presence on Agincourt Square, Church Street or Monnow street respectively.

Two weeks ago, I walked around Monmouth with the officer in charge and explained to them any special circumstances or arrangements that should be considered on the siting of A boards. Every business with A boards, tables and chairs and street displays on the public highway should have been aware that the new regime was coming in shortly due to a considerable number of press statements issued by the Chamber. We were of course disappointed in negotiations with MCC not to be able to secure, in the Cabinet decision in July 2016, reductions in the cost of street displays and tables and chairs."

David Cummings

Chairman of Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce.