A SHOP owner in Cheltenham town centre has entered a standoff with borough council planners over disputed signs outside her business.
Michelle Taylor, who runs Natural Therapeutics in Regent Street, has hit out at the authority after she was told to remove an overhead sign above her door because it was deemed to be protruding too much.
The 44-year-old reluctantly complied with the demand – only to be told she had to remove two other signs as well.
Incensed, she has refused – claiming it could kill her business – and has challenged the council to justify its stance.
"There is no way I am taking these signs down," she said.
"A business can't survive without signage to attract customers and I am no different.
"I took over this shop a year ago but it was here for eight years prior to that and these signs were never a problem – so why now?
"It's tough for everyone in retail at the moment. Since I took over I have been doing everything possible to make it work.
"But if I have to take these down it will almost certainly finish us.
"I'm not having that and I don't see why the council can't just be more supportive."
Michelle claimed her signs were no bigger than dozens of others being used by traders in the town centre.
"I took a look around and there are at least 20 signs the same or bigger than mine within a five minute walk," she added.
"I feel as if I am being victimised.
"Why is it that the council has suddenly decided to pick my shop out of all the others?"
She called on the authority to reconsider its position and in the meantime stoutly refused to take down the two remaining boards.
Martin Levick, senior planner at the borough council, said the request to remove the signs was part of a clampdown on shop advertising in the town centre – and that other shops would be affected.
He said: "Because this falls within the town centre conservation area planning consent is required for any signage.
"In this case however, consent was not sought for the signage and we have asked the owner to remove it.
"We are trying to work in partnership to try to find a sustainable signage option.
"We are investigating other shops in the area to see if appropriate consent has been sought for their signs as well."