Cafes and restaurants in the Vale of Glamorgan are to be hit with charges of between £150 and more than £750 for outdoor seating from July.
The charges, which have been brought in to limit the amount of space taken up on pavements by eateries in the county and make navigating the streets easier for disabled people, depend on the number of tables and chairs the business would like to use.
The charges for outdoor seating from July will be as follows:
Nathan Thomas, highways maintenance manager at the Council has said that these new charges would be “fairer for small businesses”. Previously, the Council charged businesses a fixed fee of £497.50 for three years, regardless of how many chairs or tables they had outside their premises, though there was seemingly little policing of this, with many businesses introducing outdoor seating areas without the required license.
Mr Thomas said of the new charges:
“Through recent strengthening of the highways maintenance team, we have found that lots of businesses were trying to encourage footways to be clear, but lots of businesses didn’t really understand the importance of having footways clear.
“Lots of businesses historically might have had table and chair licences but generally we didn’t have the resources to keep on top of it. So we wanted to put a policy together so that it was clear and everybody understood.
“We need to control and administer the amount of equipment that is placed on footpaths. We want to encourage businesses across the Vale to promote their business and encourage the town centres to look and feel vibrant and attractive, but it needs control.
“There are some businesses down Barry Island where they take full ownership of the footpaths and it’s not fair for those partially sighted or using a wheelchair, pushchairs or mobility scooters.”
The fees were initially delayed due to the pandemic but the Council rejected calls from Conservative Councillors to delay them further.
Councillor Andrew Robertson said of the decision not to delay the charges further:
“The charges were set aside during the Covid crisis. Should we be thinking about delaying the charges to give businesses a boost, maybe for another six months or even a year?
“A lot of businesses are going to rely on outdoor tables and chairs. These people have taken a huge hammering over the last year, and anything we can do to help and support them I think we should really be obliged to do.”