ADVERTISING A-boards could be banned from York’s city-centre pavements, four years after traders and the council struck a compromise deal.

City of York Council said a recent check on A-boards found about 150 causing obstructions, and the authority said they had hampered attempts to reduce street clutter. A “zero-tolerance” policy may now be introduced.

City-centre businesses who use boards said the suggestion was “ridiculous” and would hit trade.

In 2008, the council threatened businesses who did not remove A-boards with a £2,500 fine over fears they would block pavements and cause accidents, but relented the following year, telling traders no action was likely if boards were propped against buildings.

A report by scrutiny officers which will go before the council’s community safety overview and scrutiny committee next week said a “reduction in resources” meant the issue was “not being as vigorously acted upon as in the past”.

It said: “This level of obstruction of the footway is becoming a growing concern and is seen as a very real problem for those who are blind or partially sighted, or need to use a wheelchair.

“Bearing in mind the re-emergence of A-boards in the city centre, much of the benefit of the council’s de-cluttering work has also been lost.”

The report said Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for transport, planning and sustainability, was considering a city-centre zero tolerance zone.

It said: “It has been recognised the viability of some businesses which benefit from boards, due to their location being off the beaten track, may be affected, so this is being looked at to try to overcome the problem while still ensuring the majority of boards are removed.”

It said A-boards had also become a problem in other areas, including Clifton Green. A city-centre A-board policy is set to come into force early in 2013/14.

Jason Hawkins, who runs the Three Tuns and Blue Boar pubs in Coppergate and Castlegate, within the provisional zero-tolerance zone, and who uses A-boards at both, said: “It’s utterly ridiculous, especially in the current economic climate when the council should be supporting local businesses.

“Times are difficult enough and A-boards are a really good and relatively cheap way for businesses to promote themselves. Most are responsible and ensure they don’t block pavements.”

Sue Hardie, owner of the Hairy Fig cafe and delicatessen in Fossgate, which is also within the potential banning area, said: “Our boards are not in anybody’s way - small businesses have to advertise and should be allowed to.”