REDDITCH’S MP Karen Lumley has met with Unicorn Hill business owners who have been threatened with fines of up to £2,500 for putting up advertising boards outside their shops.

Mrs Lumley said she feels passionately that businesses should not be faced with such strict measures and be free to advertise outside of their shops.

She added: “This move to threaten businesses for simply advertising their shops sends completely the wrong message for anyone who would consider opening a business in Redditch. Businesses must be removed from this red tape and unnecessary regulation.

“Redditch Council must look at this again and ask themselves whether it honestly believes the town is best served using its time and resources to enforce harmful unnecessary advertising laws or whether it is best served actually encouraging businesses.”

And Labour councillor Rebecca Blake said: “Small businesses are really up against it currently. I have listened to local businesses and the problems this has caused them and asked council officers across the different departments to put their heads together to find a way through that is fair and proportionate. The footpath is owned by Worcestershire County Council and so I hope Redditch and Worcestershire can work together to get the right result.

“Redditch Council is working hard to support new business into the town centre yet there is clearly more that local and national government can do.

“At a national level planning laws could be changed to make advertising easier for small businesses and more crucially the government should scrap their VAT increase.”

A council spokesman said: “As a council we do support new and existing local businesses and we do plan to look at how we move forward with this issue by working with businesses and partners including the town centre partnership.”