Business owners in a small town centre road fear they will be overlooked by customers after the council told them to take down their signs.
If you take a walk along Montague Street in Worthing, you will see a metal archway adorned with signs. It is an invitation to explore Field Row, a little-known road in the town centre which is home to an art gallery, a tailoring business and a craft workshop.
But their owners fear they could be forgotten after Worthing Borough Council told them to remove the signs on the archway.
Alishea Foreman has been running Alishea’s Speedy Repairs in Field Row for 17 years. She said: “There is no encouragement for small businesses. The council says we are the backbone of community, so they should be more supportive of us.”
On Friday, Alishea and her neighbour Min Cooper received letters saying the signs did not have planning permission so would need to be removed.
A former newspaper cartoonist, Min opened the Field Row Gallery three years ago, which is full of her digital prints. Soon after, she asked the council if it could spruce up the archway – but she said the council declined as it did not know who owned it.
She said: “I don’t think the signs are unsightly because they say this place is alive, something is going on here, come and have a look, it isn’t just a bin alley.”
Along with her neighbours, Min has made an effort to spruce up the alley, putting flower boxes at the entrance and decorating bricked-up windows with her prints.
She said: “I’ve just had some curtains printed – but I hope it isn’t curtains for Field Row.”
Wendy Gwynn swapped working for a casino to pursue her passion of teaching arts and crafts by starting The Little Craftery workshop.
It has been open for two months, having moved from Burgess Hill where it was open for more than five years. She said the decision ‘makes life that little bit more difficult’.
She currently has branded boxes positioned by the archway. She said: “I’m relatively unknown, and most people who come here have seen the boxes outside the archway – if they aren’t there, they wont come.”
A council spokesman said: “A WBC spokesman said: “We regularly receive complaints about individuals and companies that do not have relevant planning permission. The council only takes steps of enforcement when it is in the public interest to do so.
“After receiving a complaint that a business had fixed advertising boards in a high-profile position on a metal arch framing Field Row, the council issued a notice asking the company to take the signs down.
“This is in no way associated to an ongoing pilot in Warwick Street which deals with the licensing of removable street furniture.
“We urge every business in the borough to contact us before carrying out work, regardless how large or small it may be, so that we advise on the quickest and safest way forward.”