OWNERS of a country pub are furious after highways inspectors demanded they take down a sign publicising their struggling venue.

When landlords Abby Selby and James Bagnell took over the Fox Inn in Middle Barton 18 months ago they inherited the chalkboard attached to a telegraph pole.

But Oxfordshire County Council has written to say the sign is an obstruction, ordering them to remove it.

If they have not complied by Friday, the couple could be charged removal costs.

Pub regular Rodney Munday, 69, said the board has been there for eight years without an accident.

He said: “It’s bureaucratic nonsense, it really is.”

County council spokesman Paul Smith said the head-height sign was on a highway attached to a British Telecom pole with cables running down it.

The board is used to publicise events like a crop swap to trade produce.

Miss Selby and her partner Mr Bagnell, both 33, say they are struggling to break even.

Miss Selby said: “I was gobsmacked when I opened the letter and very upset.”

Ken Norman, chairman of neighbouring Steeple Barton Parish Council, has written to the county council asking it to reconsider.