VOTE: First mend all those potholes, then I'll do as you say

A Midhurst businessman who has been ordered to remove his advertising board has told West Sussex County Council: 'You mend the potholes in this town and I'll take down my sign.'

The ultimatum comes as the county council faces heavy criticism over the poor state of its roads.

Many of them have been peppered with treacherous holes, caused, it is widely believed, not only by the extremes of weather last winter, but also by years of inadequate maintenance.

Now Roger Morgan-Grenville, managing director of kitchenware importer Dexam International, has decided it's time to stand up for motorists and cyclists he says daily face the risk of damaging their cars and injuring themselves.

"I realise I am being a bit cheeky, but it's time to be proactive so I am saying I will remove my sign, but my price is you mend the potholes."

Eighteen months ago Mr Morgan-Grenville dug his heels in when he was ordered to remove his advertising board which had stood on the A286 for 20 years pointing the way to the Dexam warehouse shop in Holmbush Way.

He said it was a little shop with a small advertising budget, providing three jobs which would have to go if there was no means of directing customers.

But now county council highway officer Adam Bazley has contacted Dexam pointing out the 'illegal advertising sign placed within the public maintainable highway' which he said was noted during a recent highway inspection.

Retorting this week, the Dexam boss told Mr Bazley: "I would like to assume that the 'recent highway inspection' you refer to was tasked with inspecting and rectifying the vast number of potholes in 'the public maintainable highway'."

He went on to suggest a 'positive co-operation' between Dexam and the county council.

"How about I agree to remove my sign the minute my staff are able to drive through Midhurst to and from Holmbush Way without running the gauntlet of burst tyres, broken springs and other damage to their cars on your roads?"

He said Dexam staff and other colleagues on the industrial estate would then feel less victimised by the 'small bureaucratic victory' against the sign-board that had been doing no harm for two decades.

He told the Observer: "The point I want to make is we are two years into a huge recession and still the most useful thing the county council can think of in supporting local businesses is telling them to remove signs that have been there 20 years, pointing the way to a marginal little business that provides two jobs which couldn't afford to advertise.

"It just shows why the private sector often gets frustrated by the seeming inability of public employees to understand what we are doing."

Midhurst was, he said facing real challenges and as a local employer, the only response he could see from local authorities was to impose car parking charges and ask businesses to remove advertising signs.

"There doesn't appear to be a will to make things better,"

he said.

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