A HARD-WORKING young entrepreneur is refusing to take down signs advertising his business despite warnings from Warrington Borough Council that he will be slapped with a £3,200 fine if he refuses.

Kristian Johnstone, from Culcheth, has since launched a petition to demand that the council provides more support for start-up businesses.

He has also accused the council of creating a money-making scheme to get funds from ‘vulnerable businesses’.

The 22-year-old, who put up 10 small signs around Warrington in December, said: “It was just a way of advertising my new business in the New Year when it’s quiet.

“I was shocked when the council told me to take them down. At the end of the day, I am just a small business trying to keep going when times are tough.”

Kristian, who set up Easylet last year, has been told by the council that he needs planning permission to put up the signs.

He is now refusing to remove them and has argued that the council should be working with small business instead of against them.

“I could just give up and claim benefits but I’m not. I simply can’t afford to advertise any other way.

“I'm a young lad trying to work for myself instead of sitting on my bum all day and this is what you get thrown at you.”

Kristian, who says he works every night and every weekend canvassing for new clients, continued: “The council should offer discounted rates for advertising in town centre for businesses that have been open for less than 18 months.

“Many businesses fail in the first year and the council should be helping people who are giving it a go.”

The council has denied that they have handed the businessman a fine but has said that they will be issued to persistent offenders as it is illegal to place advertising signs on the highway.

A council spokesman said: “In addition, illegal signs appearing across the borough are also an environmental problem as they can make streets and key gateways into the town look unattractive and do not create a good image for the town.

“Before and after Christmas, we issued advisory letters to a number of businesses, who were illegally placing signs on the highway asking them to remove them.”

The spokesman added that the council is committed to supporting business and have alternative ways of advertising including the roundabout sponsorship scheme.

To sign the petition visit easyletresidential.co.uk.