Why rip out signs now?

By CLEO SRIBER

VINNIE Dingle wants to know why Coffs Harbour Council is intent on throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Her business, the Raleigh Winery, has been a tourist attraction in the area for 17 years, adding value to the experience of tourists to the Coffs Coast and to the local economy.

The winery has had a sign erected at Bonville for the past five years and it is one of the most important advertising tools for the business, especially since the advent of the Raleigh deviation, which deprived the winery of 25 per cent of its business.

Now Coffs Harbour City Council has demanded the sign be taken down.

Ms Dingle did not have a development application for the sign, which, she said, she didn't know she had to have when she erected the sign.

"I admit that I was at fault, but I have since communicated with the council about obtaining a DA for a new sign," she said.

But Ms Dingle was told in no uncertain terms that no signage would be granted by the council for any signs in the foreseeable future.

A council spokesperson said that 12 months ago the council began an audit of signage along the highway and arterial roads and, in the Local Environment Plan 2000, the only signage now allowed is outside a business premises or in a business zone.

Though the Raleigh Winery has an RTA sign on the highway, the sign in question was much larger with directions, opening times and facilities available.

"By the time people see the RTA sign they have almost driven past the turn-off," Ms Dingle said.

"Proper signage should be encouraged. We need to have signs in this part of the world. Tourism is the lifeblood of Coffs Harbour and we should be promoting local business.

"The Raleigh Winery is part of a fledgling wine trail and is the most northerly winery out of seven or eight along the coast. The wine trail starts at Raleigh.

"Wine tourism is under extreme threat at the present time and with a deviation and now no highway signage, the future is not bright."

Ms Dingle understands that the council wants to rid the shire of unsightly and inappropriate signage, but also asks for support and acknowledgement for well-presented signage to support local businesses in their endeavours, and asks 'must we throw out the baby with the bathwater?



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