Wantage residents and councillors have spoken out against the appearance of new vape shop ‘Wantage Vape Zone’ in Market Place, with many labelling it “an eyesore”.

Nearby businesses first noticed the store’s bright yellow and blue signs being put in place the weekend before last (on February 3 and 4), which elicited fervent reaction from many town residents.

Comments drew on the sale of vapes and the signage contrasting with the market town aesthetic, also sharing concern that children may be enticed in.

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Resident Kelly Gould said: “It’s lit up luminous yellow. It stands out like a sore thumb. There’s no “old market town” charm to it.”

Another, Georgia Louise, said: “Distasteful and trashy. Ruins the old market town aesthetic. Let alone promoting children and teenagers to vape.”

Sylvia Cox said: “The facades for the shops can really ruin the beautiful frontage of so many Wantage shops. Come on, councillors and planners, we love Wantage and don't want the place ruined by unappealing signage.”

A small handful of other residents however said they did not feel the shop’s presence was a problem, drawing comparative reference to the Card Factory, which also has yellow and blue signage.

One said: “I don't understand the issue? I personally don't vape. However it's just people trying to make a living and run a business. If you don't like the shop don't go in it’s as simple as that.”

Another commented: “Has it really caused that much of an issue? Do the bright colours not look good? I personally think it looks amazing. It’s added a nice vibrant dynamic to the town.”

Other residents suggested an alternative shop or venue could occupy the space such as KFC, Wetherspoons, an estate agent or a clothing store.

Confusion remains as to whether the store is officially open, with people having been viewed unsuccessfully attempting to enter. No opening hours are listed for the store online and no record of it exists on Companies House.

Vaping and smoking were discussed on the agenda at an Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on April 20 last year.

It noted: “Anecdotally vaping among teenagers is very significant and increasing, and it was also noted that teenagers mention it as one of their top mental health concerns.

“Vaping prevalence is on the increase and there is a need to understand the relative harms of each habit compared to each other and to not smoking or vaping.”

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County councillor for Wantage Jenny Hannaby said: “I am horrified. Such a prominent position in our historic town; how can the owner of this building believe this type of business will benefit the town?

“The council is in correspondence with Vale Planning Enforcement officer. Hopefully they will agree exterior signage is inappropriate.”

Wantage town councillor Erik Johnson said the town council had “already started the process of reporting the matter to planning enforcement” with the town clerk confirming a formal statement would be made after the next full council meeting.