AN organic farm which says its losing trade due to lack of signposts has received support from Teesdale’s MP.

Helen Goodman has written to the Highways Agency voicing her concerns over its objection to Cross Lane Organic Farm’s application to place signs on the roadside nearby, directing customers and motorists to the business, located just off the A66, near Barnard Castle.

The Government agency rejected the farm’s application to put signs at its entrance and on both sides of the A66 over safety concerns but an agreed was reached recently for an alternative proposal, which has been submitted the Durham County Council’s planning committee.

Peter Coverdale, who owns the farm, added: "We suggested a couple more sites. One of them they said they would not object to, which is good, but it is a slow process.

"We still can’t see what was wrong with the original signs we asked for and I still think the Highways Agency has been very pedantic.

"We are getting good support from local people but it is still extremely local. Signs would definitely make a difference. It is frustrating because this is a small business that would otherwise flourish."

Ms Goodman described the initial objection as "very disappointing" and said that regulations should be enforced with a degree of flexibility and understanding and should be more sensitive to organisations' business needs.

She said: "Roadside advertisements are vital to attracting passing trade for businesses like Cross Lanes.

"The decision is already having a detrimental impact on the farms business - it has experienced a marked fall in customer numbers and a subsequent drop in profitability.

"The farm’s owners have collected a petition with over 800 signatures which undoubtedly reflects the strength of feeling in the area over the decision made.

"In the current economic environment businesses face enough challenges as it is without being prevented from using road side adverts which are essential to their business.

"In short, I believe this decision puts bureaucracy before business and should be reconsidered."

The Highways Agency said it was still in talks with the farm over the situation.