Businesses based in Stoke-on-Trent city centre are fighting to keep advertising boards outside of their stores without being charged.
The shops have started a petition after the council reacted to complaints from shoppers about cluttered streets.
The petition has been organized by David Hawkins, owner Cannonball Records, after the council revealed plans to charge traders to display their A-boards or products.
An outright ban on A-boards across Stoke-on-Trent would affect 500 businesses.
David Hawkins said: “Advertising boards and signs are an important tool for the survival of high street shops facing many difficulties in the present climate.”
Mr Hawkins opened his vinyl record shop six months ago and uses a homemade A-board outside his store to attract passing potential customers.
He added: “We already know that shops are suffering.
“I think the council should be looking into how to improve trade rather than penalising shop owners who are trying to keep the city alive.
“Town centres have always been busy areas with market stalls and numerous obstructions along the way
“Surely a few signs present little harm to the appearance of the street or the public.
“Any changes could put shop owners out of business if they ban the boards or start charging.”
The businesses have been given a letter setting out three possible options for the future which are a complete ban, charging for the boards or setting out a code of practice.
The council’s letter states: “As a business you may be placing items like advertising boards, goods for display or posters on the highway to hopefully attract business.
“We are suggesting some options which we hope will balance business benefits with a safe and clear highway.”
Another local trader Kevin Broad, owner of The Gentry Hairdressers in Stoke-on-Trent, believes that the council is just out to squeeze small businesses.
Kevin, 56, said: “I think it is absolutely awful.
“Our advertising boards don’t cause anyone an issue because they are placed between two bins.
“It is just another way for the council to make money.”