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£25 charge for cafes and bars to promote social distancing with street signs

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Business | Published: | Last Updated:

Food and drink businesses will be allowed to use the pavement outside their business in a bid to promote social distancing measures.

People make their way back into Wolverhampton city centre with new social distancing measures outside shops

Chiefs at Wolverhampton Council backed the proposals for the temporary measure, which will cost £25 a licence.

But concerns were raised by a councillor over businesses paying the cost due to the financial pressure they are under.

Greg Bickerdike, licensing services' section leader at Wolverhampton Council, said: "The licences allow food and drink businesses to make use of the public highway.

"It's already regulated by the Tables and Chairs Permit scheme, but the pavement licences have a reduced consultation period of seven days – rather than 28.

"The Government has said the fees is up to £100 but we're proposing a £25 application fee."

The move will permit the food or drink business use furniture placed on the highway to sell or serve food or drink – and allow it to be used by people for consumption of food or drink supplied from the premises.

Councillor Anwen Muston, who spoke during the non-statutory licensing committee, said it would be "nice" to offer the licences for nothing if possible.

But Mr Bickerdike said the fee was used to enforce the scheme – and stated the council wouldn't make any money from it.

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He added: "It has been set at £25 in line with the existing Tables and Chairs permit and that fee is so that we can cover the cost, the cost by the council in administering the scheme.

"And enforcing compliance against those who are not following the rules of their licences. And at £25 we're not making a profit on that, but if we were to make it free it would likely be the case we would have to pull that from another licensing fee somewhere else."

The policy has been "hurried through" by the Government in order to ensure businesses can follow the coronavirus guidelines.

Businesses, however, may still apply for permission to put chairs and tables on the public walkways under the Tables and Chairs permit.

The permits operate for the duration of one financial year – whereas the pavement licences will expire on September 30 next year.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Senior Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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