CHERWELL District Council has been forced into a U-turn after telling firms they had three weeks to change everything detailing their addresses or face legal action over new road names.

In May the council sent out letters to businesses at the Telford Road Industrial Estate in Bicester telling them the side roads were going to be individually named and they had 21 days to comply by changing signs, stationery and legal documents.

But after traders complained, the council admitted it had made a mistake and sent out letters clarifying no final decision had been taken and it was still at the consultation stage.

The council is suggesting naming the side roads leading off Telford Road as Engineering Close, Performance Close, Innovation Close and Enterprise Close, to help visitors find businesses based there.

It confirmed that the companies would have to foot the bill for printing stationery with their new addresses and stump up for legal fees for changing deeds.

Lynn Wright, of Bicester Beds, which has a warehouse on the estate, said the idea was “ridiculous” and said all that was needed was a detailed map of the estate at the entrance.

She said: “This estate has been running fine since it was built.

“A new sign was mentioned a few years ago but never went ahead. I feel this would be a better arrangement and could be kept up to date when new companies move in or leave, rather than the all the signs people have put up themselves at the entrance.”

Mrs Wright said the proposed change would just end up confusing her customers.

According to Cherwell’s consultation map, Bicester Beds’ warehouse will be in Innovation Road, but because the entrance is at the rear of the building, facing a service road, the council says its official address would be No 14 Telford Road.

Ben Jackson, chairman of Bicester Chamber of Commerce, admitted the arrangement in Telford Road was confusing for some but supported Mrs Wright’s call for a site map at the entrance.

He said: “The current arrangement in several commercial estates in Bicester is confusing for visitors and many get lost and become confused.

“In these times of austerity and tight financial control, a simple enhancement of existing numbers, combined with replacing missing signs and working with businesses and owners to install accurate and effective site maps, would seem a logical approach.”

Norman Bolster, the council’s executive member for policy, said: “For some time people have been saying the signs don’t really work down there.

“A number of people from businesses and the county and district councils had a meeting to try to make signs there more acceptable and the idea was to rename the roads and renumber the businesses.”

He admitted the letter about possible legal action was a “mistake”. He added: “We will get all the responses in and we will take notice of what they say.”