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Ilfracombe traders annoyed at road signs for Damien Hirst's Verity statue

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

  • Signs on the road heading towards Ilfracombe at Two Pots

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TRADERS in Ilfracombe are annoyed that signs for Damien Hirst's Verity direct visitors away from the High Street.

Several shop owners have contacted Ilfracombe Town Council via the authority's Facebook page to ask for the yellow road signs to be repositioned to bring visitors into the town centre. They believe the move would help increase trade for High Street shops.

Council representatives say the signs will be reviewed.

The yellow road signs were erected shortly after the 20m bronze statue arrived in Ilfracombe last month.

The signs were requested by the Ilfracombe Regeneration Board (IRB) which includes members of Ilfracombe Town Council, North Devon Council and Devon County Council.

However, many drivers approaching Mullacott Cross and Two Potts have been baffled by signs which direct them away from the town centre and towards car parks at Larkstone and Hillsborough.

Ian Carter, owner of Caine Fashions in the High Street, said: "Visitors need to be exposed to the 80 per cent of businesses outside the harbour who would love to help them spend their cash.

"We need to be as focused as supermarkets are on extracting every penny possible from tourists and this means directing them along the High Street so they can see the shops and cafés on offer."

Jill Cockram, owner of the Manor House Café, Church Street, said: "In the harbour the visitors just don't realise there is a town centre.

"We have been really disappointed how our council have basically kicked us in the teeth yet again in not promoting the town as a whole and the businesses that are open all year."

Ilfracombe Indoor Market manager Kate Helyer said: "It seems a bit nonsensical to put up this magnificent creature and then direct people around the outskirts of the town.

"Surely a major point of putting her in Ilfracombe was that she could benefit the town with an increase in visitors."

Ilfracombe town, district and county councillor Geoff Fowler reassured traders that the signs were temporary and would be reviewed soon.

He said: "We needed to provide some temporary signs once the planning decision for Verity had been made.

"The IRB were concerned that once in place Verity would cause extreme traffic problems in the harbour area, which proved to be the case.

"Once half term has finished the signage will revert to our main routes into town for the winter.

"We will be reviewing the overall signage situation including Verity as part of our Transport and Traffic Strategy over the coming months which will be brought forward for consultation in the early part of next year."

A Party On The Pier will be held to celebrate the turning on of Verity's lights on Friday, November 23. Organisers are appealing for donations towards a fireworks display to mark the occasion. Contact Ilfracombe Centre manager Steve Seatherton on 01271 855336 or steve.seatherton@ northdevon.gov.uk

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