TRADERS in Monmouthshire will no longer have to pay for displays outside their premises after a controversial policy was finally scrapped by the local authority. Thousands of residents and members of the business community signed petitions against the annual charge for street furniture on the high street. Monmouthshire County Council aimed to restrict “obstructions” on the public highway and increase public safety, with annual charges for A-boards and street furniture recouped to cover the implementation costs. But the council’s cabinet met on Wednesday to finalise the end of a policy which has proved controversial since it was first introduced in 2016. The only surviving part of the policy will be a permit scheme, and the only charge being a fine for those who fail to comply with the scheme. Conservative councillor Jane Pratt told cabinet members that there had been a “huge reaction” to the policy. “There was a very well-publicised social media campaign. I recieved petition signed by 2,700 people from Abergavenny, and 3,000 in Monmouth,” Cllr Pratt added. Cllr Pratt, chair of the strong communities select committee, said cabinet had ignored the group’s recommendations in September 2017 to withdraw all annual fees. Whilst members decided in January to scrap A-board charges, they voted to keep the street furniture charges but agreed to cut fees in half. At a special meeting committee meeting held on July 30, Cllr Pratt said members were “shocked” upon hearing cabinet’s decision to keep reduced charges. “I felt it was so important for me to come along today so that the strength of feeling could be conveyed,” said Cllr Pratt. “We need to be supporting our business community, especially in the high street, in any way we can.” Councillor Peter Fox, leader of the Conservative council, replied: “Whilst the cabinet may not have taken onboard the recommendations, it was no slight on the committee at that time “It was a very small amount that felt a fair shout to go toward administration costs, there was no profit in this.” Cllr Fox’s deputy, Councillor Bob Greenland, added: “This was not some form of money-making scheme. “We were simply seeking to reimburse the council with those costs, otherwise they have to be found from elsewhere.”