Big Debate: Should a-boards be banned in Newham?

A-boards have become a source of complaints about pavement clutter and obstructions

A-boards have become a source of complaints about pavement clutter and obstructions - Credit: Archant

This week, we ask whether or not Newham businesses should be banned from using a-boards

Mohammed Mohsan Ali, trustee at Transport for All

Mohammed Mohsan Ali, trustee at Transport for All - Credit: Archant

Transport for London has designated 18 areas in London as zero-tolerance zones for street clutter. This has resulted in a blanket ban on a-board advertisements traditionally used to advertise products on street pavements. The initiative was introduced to Whitechapel Road in Tower Hamlets, and hailed by some as bringing disabled people greater mobility on busy streets. But some campaigners believe the ban is stamping out urban individuality. So, this week we ask: “Should this ban spread through East London to Newham?”

To share your views simply vote in our poll, leave your comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Or you can contact Sebastian Murphy-Bates at and 020 8477 5802, or send a letter in to

Josie Appleton, director at the Manifesto Club (Pic by Julian Simmonds)

Josie Appleton, director at the Manifesto Club (Pic by Julian Simmonds) - Credit: Julian Simmonds

Mohammed Mohsan Ali – Transport for All trustee

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Everybody has a right to move with freedom and independence especially in the local community.

When there are so many obstacles such as a-boards alongside with lamp posts, bollard and wheelie bins it’s very hard to stay on the high street pavement.

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And in heavy traffic no one is going to step into the road.

There have been many occasions when I had to step into the road to get around a-boards.

As a visually-impaired person, I have been independent with the help of a cane for the last 10 or 12 years.

I just want to be able go about my business like anybody else.

A cane doesn’t always pick up a-boards – they let you know if you’re going to bump into something but sometimes it’s only the stand of an a-board that’s on the ground.

I’ve fallen over these a-boards so many times.

Once I got some nasty cuts on my knee – they can be very sharp.

I would like to see them removed because it would give me the same freedom and opportunity as anybody else on using the high street.

But it’s not just about them being an obstacle – there is a wider issue to be considered here.

Once a visually-impaired person has a bad experience it knocks their confidence it holds them back from doing other things for like progressing with further education.

Why should I be a prisoner in my own home?

This form of advertising should be banned altogether.

I don’t really think not having a-boards would make much difference to businesses.

The local shops always have posters up in their windows.

Therefore I can’t see how the need to have a-boards standing in the middle of the pavements when everybody is trying to get through can be justified.

Josie Appleton – Director at Manifesto Club

The ban on a-boards introduced in Whitechapel is part of a growing regulation of public spaces by public authorities.

These regulations include bans on leafleting and sandwich boards.

These forms of advertising define urban public settings.

They are also useful for passers-by to see what shops are on the street and what they have to offer.

The a-board ban should not be extended to Newham.

It would restrict freedom and people’s ability to communicate to others what businesses have to offer.

It would also damage local economies and make cities altogether more boring and bland places.

Some of these boards may pose a problem for disabled people, but the fact is that urban environments are full of obstructions.

There’s simply no need for these outright bans – what we need is to employ a little common sense.

We’re getting to the point were even buskers are being told they’re an obstruction.

If we apply common sense we can see there is room for a-boards as a means of advertising for local businesses in an urban environment.

Obviously, we should be sensible about where and how such advertisements are placed.

For example, a-boards should not be placed in such a way as to block all the whole of the pavement.

This will help tackle problems of obstruction while avoiding these damaging bans.

The reasons authorities give for bans like these are often excuses.

They find something they don’t like and work a reason around it.

In reality. there is a tendency within local authorities to look on anything spontaneous with suspicion.

They see it as a messy, unregulated annoyance.

Eventually, the only thing they will want in public spaces will be their own “official” space.

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