A new policy aimed at freeing up businesses to advertise to potential customers could end up saddling them with even more rules.
The ban on advertising boards on public pavements has been lifted by Essex County Council, but it plans to impose 11 new rules on traders, including limiting the the size to A1 and number of signs to one per shop.
The draft rules also say the boards should be pushed up against the buildings they are advertising.
Tom Metcalfe, who owns Simply Fitness women’s gym in Old Station Road, Loughton, said: “We’re quite far back from the kerb.
“I think it would defeat the object if we had to have it touching the building.
“If you’re coming up or down the road, if we didn’t have it out, people would have to turn their heads to see we were here.
“We need all the exposure we can get.”
Rob Young, owner of Epping Shoe Repairs in the town’s High Street, who was told to take the A-board that had stood outside his shop for 13 years down last year, said: “I know my board is big, but it’s not in the way.
“It would be in the way if it was any closer to my shop.”
A council spokesman said: “Last year Essex County Council carried out a review into the use of A-boards, in order to determine a universal policy that could be adopted across the county.
“After reviewing the responses, the council has now taken the decision that it will allow the use of A-boards on the public highway.
“Some simple policy guidelines have also been produced which set out the council’s expectations for the use of A-boards, to assist local businesses and ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists.”