Page last updated at 06:55 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Anger over tourism signage policy

David Higman and Nick Bourne AM (r)
Nick Bourne AM met David Higman (l) to discuss his problem

The curator of a bicycle museum has branded a decision not to provide his attraction with brown tourism road signs as "bureaucracy gone mad".

David Higman of the National Cycle Collection in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, has been fighting for four years for two signs on the A483 and A44.

The issue of brown signs was recently raised when a takeaway restaurant was found to have qualified for one.

The assembly government said it had launched a review of signage policy.

Mr Higman, 69, brought his historic cycle collection to the Grade II-listed Automobile Palace building in Llandrindod Wells in 1997.

He currently has 250 machines on display, some dating from 1818.

David Higman
I am outraged about it and the situation is unjust
David Higman of the National Cycle Collection

To help boost visitor numbers he has tried, without luck, to have brown tourist signs erected on the nearby A483 and A44 trunk roads.

Mr Higman said: "I am outraged about it and the situation is unjust.

"We don't receive any help from the lottery and we are more or less self reliant, so we need as much help as we can get.

"This is bureaucracy gone mad."

Tourism operators have to apply to their county council for permission for a brown sign on the minor road network.

But if they want to put one on a main road such as the A44 they have to ask permission from the Welsh Assembly Government's Trunk Road Agency.

Mid and West Wales AM Nick Bourne described Mr Higman's situation as "lunacy".

Angela Burns AM under the McDonald's sign
Angela Burns said she had raised the issue several times at the Senedd

Mr Bourne, who is also leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh assembly, said: "When Mr Higman showed me the four years of correspondence between himself, Powys County Council, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Trunk Road Agency, I was simply staggered.

"Let there be no mistake, there are other towns in the UK who would happily accommodate and support this fantastic museum at the drop of a hat.

"For a country whose economy is so heavily reliant on tourism, why on earth is WAG not bending over backwards to support attractions like this?"

Last month, the AM for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Angela Burns, highlighted how a McDonald's restaurant in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire had been granted a brown tourist sign.

Referring to the McDonald's sign, Mr Bourne said there were "obviously huge inconsistencies in the process of application that must be addressed".

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "We are aware of possible inconsistencies with the current tourism signage policy and are undertaking a review of the brown on white signs on trunk roads in Wales.

"The aims are to audit existing signage and to develop a policy that balances the assembly government's policy of promoting economic development and tourism with the need to maintain a safe and effective road network and to minimise the impact on the landscape and environment."

David Higman received an MBE for services to tourism in 2007.

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