The licence, which normally costs £460, is required by businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars wishing to place furniture on public areas for use by customers.
At council’s meeting in June 2020, council agreed to waive all fees for pavement café licences for six months to support the hospitality sector. This was further extended to August 2021.
Now, following unanimous support and approval by the Health and Community Committee, the fees will be waived until early next year. A review of the fees is to be completed by January 31, 2022.
SDLP Colr. Rory Farrell described the move as a ‘sensible approach’. “Everybody is well aware our hospitality industry has endured a really difficult time over the last 18 months and this is a small but welcome gesture that will remove a financial overhead from cafes, restaurants and pubs. It is important that we support this sector in whatever way we can and this is a practical solution to supporting these businesses and it gives them extra capacity outside which allows more scope for social distancing and generates atmosphere and theatre in our streets. It’s a win win, if we could only do something about the weather we would be laughing.”
Sinn Féin Colr. Sandra Duffy added: “The hospitality sector was at the forefront of taking Covid very seriously and closing down initially so anything we can do to assist them in their recovery we should be doing. Having the outside space has brought something new to our city and it has breathed life back into the city centres and that has to be welcomed.”
UUP Alderman Darren Guy felt the cost of the licence was rather high. He said: “Businesses continue to need help from council and the cost of a pavement café licence at £460 seems rather costly when you consider most businesses may only be able to accommodate 15 to 20 people outside their premises. There is no doubt the cost proves detrimental to some businesses who wish to apply for a pavement café licence going forward even after the free period would end.”
The Waterside councillor asked how many businesses have taken up the free offer and what income would be lost by council if it was to waive the pavement café licences up to August 31, 2022.
The council officer was unable to provide details on the cost to council, however, he explained that there are currently 21 approved licences, 11 pending subject to DfI permission and seven to be evaluated.
Local Democracy Reporter