Report of the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection.
The Committee considered a late, separately circulated report of the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection in respect of the Business and Planning Bill 2020.
A Member stated that he was confused as to why the report, which was quite technical in terms of on site and off site alcohol sales, had come to this Committee for decision but would only be put to the Licensing Committee for information. The Chair reported that this report had been brought forward in close consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Licensing Committee. Officers clarified that there were many parts of the Business and Planning Act but that this report related to pavement licences and the tables and chairs fell within the terms of reference of this Committee because of their interaction with planning legislation in terms of placing items on the highway. Decisions relating specifically to this element were agreement to the length of licence and the fees for this. Issues around off sale and deregulation of certain licensing elements would be discussed by the meeting of the Licensing Committee tomorrow.
A Member thanked Officers for this report following the discussions around tables and chairs that had taken place at the last meeting of this Committee. He questioned the proposals to only grant a minimum 3-month term which he felt was not particularly generous and stated that he would have preferred to see terms of a minimum of 6 months proposed. He noted that the City were also stipulating that there would have to be minimum of 3.2m walkway beyond any tables and chairs placed on pavements and commented that this did not really accord with what the Government had stated as they were suggesting that this could be less. He therefore questioned a seemingly pedantic approach to this which would seem to be contrary to the desire to encourage the regeneration of the City and its streets. Officers responded by highlighting that the City’s streets were fairly unique in terms of their layout with many of them being very narrow and, ordinarily, seeing high pedestrian flows. The City was now seeing a week on week increase in the number of pedestrians as well as a changing picture in terms of road closures. For all of these reasons, it was felt that initial 3 month terms were appropriate to see how these changes would play out on the City streets and with a gradual return to work. With regard to pavement width, Officers underlined that the five principles put forward by this Committee and the detailed criteria attached to these were centred around public safety and, therefore, to allow for safe pedestrian movement, the report recommended a width of 2.2m plus an additional 1m to accommodate for social distancing.
Another Member commented that it was important to keep in mind the City’s narrow streets and available/necessary pavement space for things such as wheelchairs and pushchairs to pass safely.
A Member asked that the fact that these licences were to be granted was communicated very carefully to avoid any public confusion and to encourage residents and businesses working in harmony during this period of recovery. She added that, much to the confusion of some members of the public, there were premises who already had a legal entitlement to place tables and chairs outside of their premises.
The Chair thanked the Licensing Team for an intense period of hard work during the crisis and recovery phases.
RESOLVED – That:
1. The ‘Al Fresco Eating and Drinking (Business and Planning Act 2020) Policy’ produced as Appendix 1 to this report be agreed.
2. The 3-month Pavement Licence period, as outlined in paragraphs 15 and 16 of this report, be agreed.
3. The fee of £100 for a Pavement Licence application, as outlined in paragraphs 17 to 18 of this report, be agreed.
4. The need for an urgent report once the Bill receives Royal Assent, to grant delegated authority to the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection, be noted.