A-BOARDS and signs that clutter up pavements should be banned from Edinburgh's streets, a leading conservation body has claimed.

The Cockburn Association and Edinburgh World Heritage Trust have also called for more strict enforcement on street advertising boards amid concerns they are causing a direct hazard to residents and visitors.

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A-boards are banned from the Royal Mile, Princes Street and Rose Street but it is claimed this is routinely flouted, and Terry Levinthal, director of the Cockburn Association, said street advertising exacerbates congestion on already busy thoroughfares.

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Above: A-boards in Edinburgh. Image: Gordon Terris

However, some firms such as tour operators have claimed A-boards are critical to bringing in business and can be responsible for as much as half of bookings.

Edinburgh City Council said it is redrawing its rules on A-boards which it accepted can be hazardous.

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Mr Levinthal said: "The feeling that we get is that Edinburgh council prefers not to interfere with business and has a pro-business perspective are reluctant to enforce regulations to manage the public space.

"That is the key issue, they are public spaces. They are not extensions of business activities.

"They (the council) doesn’t seem keen to put a ban on some of the narrowest most congested streets in Edinburgh."

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He continued: "I think just a ban on A-boards would be a good way forward.

"Not only do they take up space where there is congestion already but they are hazards for disabled people.

"If you have ever been out on the High Street on a windy day and you see these things being blown down the street, they are a hazard to everyone."

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Above: A-boards in Edinburgh. Image: Gordon Terris

Mr Levinthal said: "All of these comes under a bigger banner of the commercialisation of public space for individual commercial benefit.

"There are occasions when that commercial benefit can also be a public benefit and I would think putting out street café in the right place is probably a very good thing and can bring vitality and excitement into a street."

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He said: "But if the majority of the path is being taken over by an appropriated commercial actively then one has to question the overall proportionality of that.

"Street clutter remains a significant issue.

"But what we are talking about with A-boards and the wider appropriation of public spaces is exacerbating the problem that is already there in some places."

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Nick Hotham, of Edinburgh World Heritage, the group which oversees the World Heritage site, echoed the concerns and said clutter issues still needs to be tackled: "The streets wynds, and closes of the World Heritage Site are full of unnecessary signage, as well as unauthorised advertising, refuse bins, and street furniture.

"We are committed to reducing this clutter so that our world-class views and vistas can be better appreciated across the site.

"The adoption of the de-cluttering protocol by City of Edinburgh Council was an important step on this journey, but more needs to be done, especially on the Royal Mile, Princes Street and George Street."

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Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, above, said: “We’re looking at ways we can make Edinburgh’s streets as pleasant and accessible as possible."

She said: "We know that A-boards can be hazardous to pedestrians, particularly those with mobility or sight issues or anyone pushing a pram.

"Therefore we are developing a strategy, specifically looking at A-boards and other temporary on-street advertising, which will be reported at the Transport and Environment Committee on May 17.

“Clearly businesses will always want to promote themselves and we’re keen to work with them to explore different ways they can do this, while keeping foot-ways as accessible as possible for their customers and local residents.”