Council bosses are threatening businesses in Aberdeen with fines unless they remove sandwich board advertisements which have been deemed a “hazard”.
Shocked owners were sent letters to say the authority has a policy on “obstructions” and that offenders will be hit with a penalty of at least £120 per sign.
Staff at Cocoa Ooze Chocolates, on the part-pedestrianised Belmont Street, said customers were “outraged” when told about the crackdown yesterday.
City centre councillors said the approach could be viewed as “control freakery” and said it was unfair on small businesses.
But a local authority spokeswoman said it was illegal to have the A-boards on pavements, and insisted there was a danger to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
Jamie Hutcheon, director of Cocoa Ooze Chocolates, said the sandwich board has only been situated outside the company’s Belmont Street outlet for seven days.
He said: “It is a bit frustrating to be honest. We just want people to know that we are here.
“We have not had any complaints about this. We have been asking people all day, and our customers are up in arms – they are outraged.
“We are looking for a little bit of support, but it seems like the council has no creativity or vision for the city.”
Mr Hutcheon, who also has an outlet in Peterculter, has started a petition in protest at the move.
Conservative councillor Alan Donnelly, whose Torry and Ferryhill ward covers part of the city centre, said: “These kind of forceful letters that go out – it is control freakery of the sort that I don’t want to be a part of.
“However, if somebody trips, then who is responsible? We have a compensation culture now.”
City centre councillor Bill Cormie added: “I feel it is a bit heavy handed.
“I would have expected that a knock on the door would have been far better than delivering this type of letter to small business people trying to make a living.”
The council spokeswoman said the boards are illegal under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, which she added gives the local authority powers to remove them.
She added: “Sandwich boards can be potentially hazardous to pedestrians and motorists.
“They may force pedestrians to step on to the road because the pavement is blocked or cause motorists or cyclists to take action to avoid a sandwich board which has been blown or fallen on to the carriageway.”