Lamp-post ban angers trader in wool furore
A South Shore trader has branded the council knit-wits after she said they ordered her to stop her scheme to brighten up her street.
Susanne Johnson from Johnson’s wool and haberdashery shop in Bond Street has been left feeling needled by officials after her “yarn bombing” scheme fell foul of regulations.
Susanne and friends knitted colourful decorations for lamp-posts and signs in the street, with a plan to have one on every piece of street furniture right up to the Prom.
She said the idea was to brighten up the area and lead people down to the often overlooked independent shops in the area.
One lamppost is resplendent with imaginative monsters complete with googly eyes and comical feet, another has bee transformed into a tree with a cheeky squirrel.
Susanne said she had spent around £200 on wool for the project and she and friends had spent hours on the knitting.
She said: “Yarn bombing has been done all over the world in some really beautiful places, Toronto, Australia, India, and Bristol so we thought how much more needed was it here and what better way to decorate our own area.
“But the latest one had been up just a day or two when we got a man from E.ON coming along to tell us we had to take it down. It is an ‘illegal attachment to a lamppost’ apparently.
“It is such a shame. The knitting is not doing any harm. We have left a space for maintenance and have done no damage.
“We just feel that the shops in Bond Street and the surrounding area are not getting enough support from the council.
“We tried to organise a pop up shop next door to use an empty property with five stalls inside, but they stopped us at the last minute.
“We also had an idea for a Caribbean carnival last September but the night before they cancelled it.
“We had worked on it for seven weeks getting the permits but we had an issue over the size of the sound system.
“I was £650 out of pocket after organising the sound system and security. Now this.
“This area has 64 shops but 32 of them are empty and it just feels like we are held back at every turn.”
She said the area could be made into the niche shops area of Blackpool with a bit of support and investment to offer something different from the standard high street retail names found in every town.
She added: “Our next lamppost was to be an under the sea theme for outside the fish and chip shop.
“One of my friends had already started on the tentacles for the octopus. It puts a smile on people’s faces when they walk past. Children like to run up and hug them.”
Sarah Madden, from South Shore, was walking past with her daughter Ellie.
She said: “I think its great. This area is really run down and so it’s great someone is trying to do something. My daughter likes them.
“She is always touching them when we go past.”
Maria Robinson was also shopping in the area with her children. She said: “We need something like this round here. I think they are quite funny and not doing any harm. They should leave them up.”
But the council has said it is willing to help the traders in the Bond Street area, but the lamp-posts were out of bounds.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We’re happy to work with Mrs Johnson on ways to make South Shore a nicer area and more attractive to shoppers.
“People can’t just go about attaching things to lamp-posts and parking signs but if they speak to us first then are very amenable to helping people who are keen to brighten up their area.
“In this instance, we will speak to Mrs Johnson and come up with a solution that satisfies both parties.”