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One of the York traders worst affected by the A-board ban has come up with what he thinks is the ideal replacement.

His idea is ingenious, it’s quirky and it works well in another walled city. So, he points out, why not here?

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here’s the story so far…

The rise of the A-boards

A-boards in Stonegate last August

Many businesses in York have found A-boards invaluable. They stop people in their tracks and drive them through the doors of shops, cafés and bars.

But because they are so effective, they also became very popular.

A city overrun

A proliferation of A-boards on Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate last summer

The A-board explosion meant that you couldn’t move for the things. And they were causing a trip hazard, especially for people with impaired sight and other disabilities.

But they made us smile

You can see 23 more funny A-boards like this one in our gallery

Nevertheless, they were for the chop

Source: City of York Council

Last August, City of York Council revealed they were going to ban A-boards – and all other “comparable advertising materials/ features placed on the highway” from the centre of town.

The only exception was Micklegate.

Many businesses weren’t happy

Owner of The Inkwell Paul Lowman was one of many business owners who were angered by the ban. Photograph: Richard McDougall

The blanket ban, and the decision to bring it in before alternatives were in place, angered a lot of businesses.

“This attack is particularly egregious given that it is tackling a ‘problem’ that the council is itself at least partially responsible for,” wrote Paul Lowman, owner of the Inkwell, in a piece for YorkMix.

Many others expressed similar sentiments at meetings and on social media.

The ban started slowly…

Two of the A-boards still there on the first day of the ban

On February 1, the first day of the ban, we found lots of businesses had ignored it. On some streets it was hard to tell any difference.

But there has been a change

Stonegate a few days into the ban. Photograph: Richard McDougall

As traders began to comply you could see the difference it was making. Gone were streets cluttered with boards, and there was a much cleaner look to parts of the city.

However – there is still no alternative to help businesses get noticed.

Until this familiar figure stepped forward…

The ghost walker steps in

Trevor Rooney and his friend… Trevor. Photograph © Facebook

Trevor Rooney, who invented York’s ghost walking industry many moons ago, makes the point that tour guides like him rely on their A-boards more than most. They don’t have a shop window to attract custom and casual visitors wouldn’t know they existed without their street advertising.

As a result, Trevor is a trenchant critic of the A-board ban. But he’s also blessed with an inventive mind, and when he went looking for a solution he came up with…

The new A-boards?

Photograph © Ian Parkes on Flickr

This is what Trevor suggests could take over. They have long been in use directing visitors around Southampton’s wall walk.

Fitted to the numerous lampposts they are as eye-catching as an A-board but without the trip hazards. “It’s in keeping with York I think,” Trevor said.

Could be a go-er?

Photo mock up: Trevor Rooney

Trevor even mocked up a version of how a version advertising his own ghost tour could look. And it has been liked more than 140 times on Facebook.

“Trev, that’s genius and way better and smarter than a stupid A-board,” said one commenter.

“Love the idea of your new sign Trevor – I do hope the council approve it,” said another.

So we asked City of York Council. And a spokeswoman told us they were encouraging people to submit their own ideas:

We’re continuing to discuss options with businesses, and we welcome any suggestions sending to aboards@york.gov.uk

So who knows, we might be seeing Trevor’s vision come true…

What do you think? Add your own thoughts below