Advertising signs in Dorchester: A-OK or board silly?

People in Dorchester will have a chance to tell Dorset County Council what they think about on-street advertising signs, known as ‘A-boards’, this week.

The freestanding boards – which look like a letter ‘A’ from the side – can divide opinion. Local businesses use them to attract customers but some people see them as a nuisance.

As Dorset’s highway authority, the county council is responsible for making sure the county’s roads and pavements are safe.

At the moment, its policy says that A-boards must be in good condition, within a set size and keep the pavement clear for pedestrians. It only enforces this where there is a safety issue.

The council is considering whether it needs to change its approach. But, first, it is asking residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors what they think – starting in the county town this week.

Council staff will be outside Barclays in South Street, Dorchester, between 11am and 2pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to ask passers-by a few quick questions about the number of A-boards and whether they are a help or a hazard.

They will also be asking people’s views of options ranging from no change to the current policy to a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, as well as having maps or signposts for shops and businesses in dedicated areas.

Cllr Peter Finney, the county council’s Cabinet member for the environment, said:

“We are keen to support Dorset’s economy and understand that our local businesses need to advertise.

“However, the number of A-boards in some places has grown over time and they can cause an obstruction, especially for people with disabilities.

“Before we make any changes, we want to gather a range of views by talking to local residents, companies, business groups and town councils.”

The consultation is being done in partnership with Dorchester Joint Heritage Committee – which organised an initial meeting about the issue, Dorchester Town Council, Dorchester Civic Society, Dorchester BID and Dorchester Chamber of Commerce.

Peter Mann, member of the Dorchester Joint Heritage Committee and Chairman of the Dorchester Civic Society, said:

“I very much welcome this consultation, which is a real opportunity for people to share their views and move towards steps which will help improve the appearance and access to the town centre shops.”

You can also have your say by completing an online survey at