A CONTROVERSIAL bid to have traders’ A boards removed from the historic Market Cross in Malmesbury is due to be put before an extraordinary town council meeting tonight.
The council owns the Grade I listed ancient monument built more than 600 years ago to shelter market traders.
Now, following a complaint about signs being propped up outside it, the planning committee has asked the full council to consider a ban.
But businesses off the square say the signs are vital to help them survive.
One trader who did not want to be named, said: “People need to be able to see that we are there. We are tucked away and we’re not on the main drag.”
The business owner asked why it had been acceptable for new supermarket Waitrose to have a bike-mounted sign parked across all the other A boards in the Market Cross and added there were currently more than 20 Waitrose signs around the town and on the site.
“The big problem is nobody has spoken to us. Nobody from the council has come in in the last three or four months and said this is a problem.”
“It is an ancient monument, but on the other side of the coin it is a market cross. For centuries we’ve had things on there and people selling stuff.
“We’re not doing a great deal of harm and nobody leaves the signs out 24/7. “ The trader pointed to other businesses in the centre of town that used A boards. And asked “Why should five or six businesses in the Market Cross be penalised?”
Another proprietor told the Standard: “I think it is just crazy. The history of the Market Cross is that it is used for market traders. We don’t have a market there every day, but we do have local shops.
“There seems to be a real conflict. The town council is supposed to be supporting local businesses.”
The trader agreed a compromise could have been sought and maybe the idea of a joint sign for the businesses considered.
But as well as demonstrating that the town was alive, they were needed to direct visitors to the shops hidden away off the square.
The meeting in the town hall starts at 6pm.