Publican cautioned over sign safety move

A PUB landlord who altered a traffic sign claiming he was fearful it was causing accidents has had a criminal damage charge against him dropped.

Yesterday, instead of being sentenced by Harrogate magistrates, John Nelson of the Coach and Horses in the town’s West Park, received a police caution after agreeing to pay a £400 damage bill to North Yorkshire County Council.

The publican, 57, had climbed a ladder and altered a sign he considered was responsible for accidents and scores of near misses after complaints to the council and police had failed to prompt any alterations..

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Magistrates had heard the sign, near his pub, directs drivers to turn right from one-way West Park into Tower Street, where there are two car parks.

Nelson’s solicitor Geoffrey Rogers said the fact there were two lanes in West Park was the problem. Drivers in the left-hand lane spotted the parking sign and cut across traffic in the other lane.

When Nelson’s complaints brought no official action he altered the right-turn arrow so it pointed straight ahead.

Mr Rogers claimed for the six to eight weeks it remained in that position there were no accidents. But when it pointed right again, collisions recurred within days. So Nelson altered the sign a second time and landed himself in trouble when a council camera videoed him at work.

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“He feels aggrieved about being in court, though he accepts there was some minor damage to the sign,” said Mr Rogers.

Outside court Nelson said: “My concern is someone will be stood on that corner and a car will end up on the pavement.” Now he has put up his own camera and is compiling a dossier which he intends to submit to highlight his concerns.

A county council spokesman denied the sign caused problems: “There is no evidence of any potential threat to road safety, providing motorists exercise the due care and attention the law and traffic regulations require.”