Pub landlord appears in court after damaging road sign

tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic1.
tis. Harrogate Magistrates Court. 311208ARpic1.

A 57-year-old pub landlord, who claims he altered a road sign to prevent collisions, appeared before Harrogate Magistrates Court charged with criminal damage to property valued under £5,000.

John Nelson, landlord of the Coach and Horses on West Park, has been charged with causing £400 worth of criminal damage after he removed the arrow from a road sign on West Park Street.

Geoffrey Rogers defending Mr Nelson told the court Mr Nelson removed the arrow to prevent accidents.

He said: “Mr Nelson has been landlord of the Coach and Horses since 2009 and since then there has been a number of accidents outside of the pub.

“West Park Street is a one-way road but there are two lanes of traffic and there have been numerous car accidents.”

Mr Rogers said that drivers unfamiliar with Harrogate don’t see the sign for parking at West Park car park with an arrow pointing toward Tower Street until it is too late so have to cut across the right-hand lane of traffic.

He said: “That has been causing innumerable accidents.”

The court heard the Mr Nelson had meetings with the council and spoke to the police but felt nothing had been done.

Mr Rogers said that Mr Nelson had moved the arrow so that it indicated for traffic to drive onwards rather than turn right up Tower Street.

He said: “During the six to eight weeks the arrow was changed to Mr Nelson’s knowledge there were no accidents.

“The arrow was changed back and low and behold there was accidents, so Mr Nelson again changed the sign.”

“Again for a time there was no accidents until the sign was fixed and low and behold yet again the accidents started.”

Mr Nelson said the third time he attempted to amend the sign the arrow was stuck more firmly and he used a paint scraper to get it off, leading to scratches on the sign, which amounts to criminal damage.

He added that a CCTV camera had been installed and caught him in the act so he was spoken to by the police.

After the hearing he said: “I did all of this in broad daylight, I haven’t been sneaking around with something to hide.

“My concern is that someone will be stood on that corner and a car will end up on the pavement.

“The last thing I want is that something happens there and someone is hurt or worse and I hadn’t done something.”

He added: “The majority of these accidents aren’t reported to the police, but it must be costing insurance companies thousands.”

The case was adjourned until March 5 so police could reconsider the possibility of issuing Mr Nelson with a caution.