Sign of the times for community

Banner Cross Neighbourhood Group members, from left, Ian McCollough, Rob Mellers, Margaret Anderson, Pearl Woodward, Ian Woodward, Viv Lockwood, Russell Letch and Katherine Albertson with the road closed sign one of the group found abandoned on a Peak District road. They intend to use it to avoid a hire charge to use one.
Banner Cross Neighbourhood Group members, from left, Ian McCollough, Rob Mellers, Margaret Anderson, Pearl Woodward, Ian Woodward, Viv Lockwood, Russell Letch and Katherine Albertson with the road closed sign one of the group found abandoned on a Peak District road. They intend to use it to avoid a hire charge to use one.

A Sheffield community group is warning that a charge of £50 by highways contractor Amey to borrow ‘road closed’ signs is “a nail in the coffin” of local activities.

Banner Cross Neighbourhood Group used to pick up the signs free of charge from the Olive Grove depot and returned them.

Now Amey says it has safety concerns over visitors to the depot, and the £50 fee is towards transport and manpower costs of delivering and collecting the signs.

Neighbourhood group secretary Viv Lockwood said: “This charge is a nail in the coffin for events such as ours and all those other community activities which do not aim to make a profit and work on a financial shoestring.

“A few of our members organise summer events, like street parties, which include road closing for a few hours.”

Mr Lockwood, who is alerting other community groups, said his organisation avoided Amey’s fee by finding abandoned signs and cones from country lanes.

An Amey spokeswoman said: “We took the difficult decision to charge a nominal £50 fee for the loan of signs and cones to help cover some of the costs associated with the loan of the equipment.

“Olive Grove is an operational depot with a large amount of equipment, vehicles and activity on site. It is not a suitable environment for people who are not aware of safety regulations to be calling in to collect items.

“For this reason, we decided the only practical alternative was to deliver and collect the equipment. The £50 fee goes some way towards covering the transportation and manpower costs.”