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Wolverhampton council bosses discuss plan to make it easier for bars and cafes to offer pavement seating

Licensing bosses are to discuss an extension to pavement licences for cafes, restaurants and bars next week.

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The Lupo Lounge on Dudley Street, Wolverhampton

Council bosses in Wolverhampton are looking to endorse the extension of pavement licences for cafes, restaurants and bars in the city for another year, along with the application of a renewal fee in line with the current £25 cost.

Licensing chiefs are due to discuss recent changes resulting from regulations made under the Business and Planning Act 2020, extending the pavement licence scheme until September 30, 2023.

It is expected that the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill – currently at the committee stage in the House of Commons – will make the changes permanent.

In a report to the council’s statutory licensing committee, Trading Standards and licensing service manager Paul Dosanjh said: ” In response to the coronavirus pandemic, new regulations made temporary provision for a fast-track process to allow businesses selling food or drink to obtain authorisation from the local authority for the placement of tables and chairs on the highway adjacent to their premises.

“The regulations were designed to provide a streamlined and cheaper route for businesses to obtain a licence to place furniture on the highway. In doing so the government hoped this would provide much-needed income for businesses and protect as many hospitality jobs as possible.

“The 2021 regulations effectively extended the provisions of the 2020 regulations in relation to pavement licences. This was subsequently extended to September 30 this year.”

“A pavement licence permits the placing of furniture on the highway. This licence does not remove the need to obtain other approvals, such as a premises licence to sell alcohol,” he added.

“Once the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill becomes law the scheme will probably become permanent rather than being renewed on a yearly basis. Accordingly, it would be sensible to apply the £25 charge now so that there is a baseline for charging in the future.

“Whilst there are currently only nine licence holders it is likely that more business will want to take advantage of the ‘café culture’ being promoted in the city.”

The total amount of income for the current nine licence holders is £225 which provides a small contribution to licensing. It is proposed that fees should be reviewed on an annual basis in line with other fees and charges in accordance with the council’s constitution.

Licensing bosses will discuss the updates next Wednesday.