Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Delight after Signs Decision Reversed; Clampdown Sparked Fury

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Delight after Signs Decision Reversed; Clampdown Sparked Fury

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

OWNERS of an award-winning rural business are delighted after being allowed to re-erect vital advertising signs which sparked a furious row over a council clampdown in Northumberland.

The decision to order Sarah and Hugh Annett to remove the four signs pointing customers to their Country Barn farm shop and coffee shop at Widdrington, near Morpeth, provoked a massive backlash against the county council's purge on roadside advertising.

After The Journal highlighted the couple's plight last month, it emerged that letters threatening legal or enforcement action had been sent to a number of other businesses and community organisations in respect of unauthorised signs.

They included committee members of the annual Glanton Show - who were told to take down a roadside banner promoting the event - Rothbury football club and the owners of a pub and guesthouse in North Broomhill.

Anger over the council's heavy-handed approach to the issue resulted in it backing down and launching a review of its enforcement policy on signs.

Now Mr and Mrs Annett have been told they can put two of their four signs back up, allowing them to take advantage of the remainder of the summer tourist season.

The couple erected the signs alongside the A1068 Morpeth to Amble road when Country Barn Ltd opened five years ago, and were left distraught when the council recently ordered their removal. More than 530 customers and staff signed a petition in support of the business, which employs 32 people and has won several rural enterprise awards. They claimed it was at risk of closure without the vital adverts.

Yesterday, Mrs Annett said they had been given the go-ahead to restore two of the signs - and seek retrospective planning permission for them to become permanent - at a meeting with a council planning officer.

"We are over the moon and thrilled that the two signs are going back up, but my ultimate goal is to have all four back in place again. …

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