Fears businesses based in non-listed buildings are getting away with more than others in Honiton. Cllr John O’Leary calls for greater communication between businesses and the town council.

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Commercial signs at entrances to Lace Walk shopping centre in Honiton have been likened to those of a “brothel”.

The comment was made by East Devon district councillor John O’Leary during a meeting of the town council last week when he called for better communication between businesses and the town council, which has delegated authority over signs.

He raised concerns after it was revealed a business in the town, after purchasing a sign at great cost, was told it could not be used because of the listed status of the building concerned.

Cllr O’Leary said: “We need to work more closely with businesses on what is acceptable and not acceptable. Some of the signs are terrible - Lace Walk looks like a brothel entrance.

“Because it is not a listed building, they can do what they like.

“We have got to do something to help businesses in Honiton.

“Businesses are closing and what we are going to be left with is charity shops, coffee shops and betting shops.”

He added: “We are going to lose another shop in Honiton – we’ve lost the green grocers and the travel agents.

“I have been trying to fight for businesses in the town, which are spending good money doing a difficult job. We can’t have this – I would like the town council and chamber of commerce to work closely with businesses.”

Cllr O’Leary told the meeting that the business in question did not think it had done anything wrong.

He said: “It’s a perfectly good sign.”

Councillor Liz Tirard advised that the matter had been referred to the district council for enforcement action and the business in question had not been in touch with the authority as it should have done.

She said: “There is a clear policy to decide what is appropriate in the town.”

“When we look at it we have got to make sure everything is sensitive and good for the conservation of the area’s listed buildings and general presentation of the town.

“We want to work with businesses and every time there is a new business opening up a booklet is pushed through the door so they can find out who to talk to before spending an awful lot of money.”

Councillor John Zarczynski urged business owners to express their concerns to the town council.

What do you think? Comment below or email katy.griffin@archant.co.uk

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