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Signs look bad for retailers

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014
Barbershop
RED FLAG: Lake Rd barbershop owner Tracie Williams is counting down the days and the cost of removing her curbside flag.

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Tracie Williams has been cutting hair in Takapuna for years but worries many businesses, including her own, will go under if they lose their footpath signs.

In November, a council officer visited her first floor business, Uppercut Barbers, and told her she had four weeks to remove her red and white striped kerbside flag.

Under the council bylaws, each street-level business is allowed one kerbside sign or flag, but shops like Uppercut Barbers have to share a composite sign with all other first floor businesses.

Ms Williams says without kerb signage people will walk right past her barber shop.

"The flag is very important to me. A lot of people see it, otherwise they wouldn't know I was here," she says.

Ms Williams says the rule is unfair because her shop is the only upstairs business in her building that attracts walk-ins.

Having built-up her clientele over 30 years, Ms Williams says her business might survive but enforcement will destroy newer businesses.

She will have already wasted $2000 on new flags this year replacing stolen flags if she can't get an exemption.

An Auckland Council spokesperson says the council can waive the rules for new businesses less than six months old but its long-term goal is to reduce clutter and obstruction for pedestrians.

Takapuna Beach Business Association general manager Peter White says: "It's not rule changes, it's rules enforcement coming to Takapuna."

Auckland Council can't use the same level of discretion as the old North Shore City Council, Mr White says.

"We are one city now.

"The council is looking to apply consistent treatment."

On a CBD walkaround in November, a compliance officer identified dozens of businesses which probably broke the signage bylaws, Mr White says.

The business association even asked the council if businesses like Ms Williams' could lease footpath space as street traders but the council rebuffed this.

The council had sent out 60 signage breach notices to Takapuna shop owners so far, the spokesperson says.

Scott Donovan kept his kerbside sign for upstairs shop Life Outlet Store by swapping it with his allotted sign for downstairs store Life for Men.

Meanwhile, until someone from the council comes back, Ms Williams plans to keep her flag at the curb, she says.

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