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Food businesses in South Kesteven could get licences to set up outdoor table and chairs more quickly under new rules

Businesses selling food and drink in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings, may soon be able to quickly set up tables and chairs to serve customers outdoors.

The Government is expected to make a law allowing traders such as cafes, bars and restaurants to apply down a more streamlined route straight to the district council. Previously, businesses had to apply to the county council, but it is hoped new legislation will allow them to apply for a pavement licence to put furniture outside their premises, making it easier for them to trade during the pandemic.

Members of South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet agreed this week to defer a decision to the chief executive in consultation with the cabinet member for commercial and operations, once the legislation has gone through. It is expected to be law within two weeks.

South Kesteven District Council logo (13132188)
South Kesteven District Council logo (13132188)

Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew (Con) said she believed the move would benefit the visitor economy. She said: “I have been contacted by a number of businesses who I think would be more than happy to take this up and run with it, especially as it goes on until next summer. Hopefully, we will get things moving in all of our towns with the support of this pavement licence.”

However, Coun Ray Wootten (Con) said: “Chairman, once you have full details of this legislation would you raise two issues for me? One is that of disabled and blind users who may not realise there are obstructions on the pavements. And also we have the public place protection order in place for excess drinking in the town centre. Will you ensure that you make your voice and the voice of this council heard?”

Gary Smith, strategic director for commercial and operations, said there was some recognition in the legislation that there was a need to enable more space on pavements for the disabled.

He added: “I take the point about blind or poorly sighted residents, that that is potentially a problem. I think it is a case of finding a pragmatic approach to get the right balance, to support local businesses and visitors to enjoy whilst also recognising the difficulties of some residents we have in getting about.

“In terms of the public space protection order and excess drinking, our ability to do much on that is fairly limited and so we can raise the questions again. My understanding around some of the licences is that automatic approval is being given for takeaway alcohol for all licensed premises. So it is an issue to continue to watch and we are liaising closely with the police as you would expect.”

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