TRADERS say the city council is 'cutting off its own nose to spite its face' with a move to oust banners from the centre of Chester.
Small businesses that rely on passing trade say they will be badly affected by the ban, which will be in place from May 1.
And Chester's craft fair, which is held 22 times a year at the town hall, could come to an end.
'How will people know that the fair is on if we are not allowed to put a banner up outside the town hall?' said stallholder Gina Gresty.
'We rely on tourists and visitors who walk by, see what's going on and then walk in. They don't read the local paper and see the adverts.'
Mrs Gresty, of St Oswalds Flats, New-town, who sells her own handmade cards, added: 'There would be no point in the fairs carrying on.
'And that would mean the council would lose up to £16,000 a year from hiring out a room to us - can they afford to throw away that kind of money?
'It seems the council is shooting its own foot.'
Elizabeth Newnes, of Morgan Close, Blacon, is one of the 25-plus stallholders at the fairs, which are run by Leeroy Thomas, of Widnes.
She is also involved in the charity fair which is held at the town hall for three days every September.
'The banners are only present for the duration of the event and are not permanent,' she said.
'Mr Thomas has conducted surveys to see who is actually coming into the craft fairs and a massive 95% are tourists who have come in due to reading the banners.
'The 5% of locals who attend also do so because of the banners.'
She added: 'Craft fairs are part of our heritage, something Chester relies on for its income. As a local crafts person, I would have no retail outlet as I can not afford the overheads of a shop.
'I have seen how the city is losing its uniqueness of individual, privately owned shops with a caring attitude.
'We have been taken over by the conglomerates who get planning permission for their massive neon signs that can be seen all over the city, and we are not going to be allowed a miniscule banner up for a few hours on a Saturday.'
Stallholders are appealing for Cestrians to support them by writing to Chester City Council's chief executive Paul Durham and Chester MP Christine Russell.
Mrs Newnes added: 'The council seems to have made a decision without consultation of all those involved - therefore, no positive, appropriate solutions have been made.
'What has happened to democracy?' A city council spokesman said that a uniform banner could soon be designed for businesses to display in the city centre, which is entirely a conservation area.
He said: 'We want a strong vibrant image for our Chester and promotional banners will be part of that. However, we have a problem with unauthorised, inappropriate and often tacky banners on the Rows and other listed buildings - including the town hall - which don't meet standards.
'We have been inadvertently allowing inappropriate banners on the town hall balcony for which we had no permission. We have been allowing our own banners and other people's banners which would not meet standards and would not get permission if we went through the proper channels. But we have to get our own house in order before we can enforce the ban on tacky and inappropriate banners in the rest of the city centre.'
He added: 'We want to work with our partners on a proper brand that can be used to promote charities, functions and businesses with well-designed banners which can be displayed on the Rows and other listed buildings with a 'corporate Chester feel'.'