Published Thursday, 23 July 2020
Councillors are set to approve a new temporary pavement licensing policy that will enable pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues to increase the availability of seating and tables outside venues in the city.
On Saturday 4 July pubs, bars and restaurants were able to reopen as long they had clear safety procedures in place to restrict the spread of Covid-19.
A new Business and Planning Bill 2019-21 is expected to be passed in parliament making it easier for premises serving food and drink such as bars, restaurants and pubs, to seat and serve customers outdoors through temporary changes to planning procedures and alcohol licensing, as lockdown restrictions are lifted but social distancing guidelines remain in place.
The Bill proposes a temporary fast-track process for these businesses to obtain permission, in the form of a Pavement Licence.
The licence will allow businesses to increase the numbers of customers who visit venues.
Council Licensing Officers have already been working with businesses like bars and restaurants to help them to adhere to social distancing and safety measures that protect both staff, customers and the public.
The Bill proposes a cap of £100 on the application fee for a Pavement Licence. However, in order to give the greatest incentive to businesses, the report proposes that there will be no fee for applications for Pavement Licences in Coventry.
Cllr Patricia Hetherton, Cabinet Member for City Services, said that it was important that businesses are helped where possible.
She said: “We believe that it is important that we do not set a fee for the licence. We should be supporting venues and I am hoping we can help them make their plans to extend seating arrangements work.
“These are very extraordinary times and the licence will be provided on a temporary basis so that that the Council can monitor any new arrangements to ensure that safe access is maintained for the public – where seating is on or near a footpath.”
Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council, added: “Since pubs and restaurants reopened the vast majority of venues and customers have acted responsibly.
“The licence will include conditions that protect the public and ensure that nuisance and antisocial behaviour is prevented.
“Based on our experiences so far we expect people to adhere to the rules.”
He added: “Everyone wants businesses and the hospitality sector to reopen safely. We need to help businesses to get back on their feet.
The Council’s licensing team is in contact with businesses and is offering to arrange to visit licensed premises and food businesses who need help with complying with the new guidance.
Venues are being reminded to refer to the conditions on their premises licence, as these will remain in force, and if they have any questions regarding these, or need to make any changes, they should contact the licensing team at [email protected]
Trish Willetts, Director at Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), commented: “We very much welcome this news and Coventry BID is fully supportive. It’s fantastic to see Coventry proactively working on real-time solutions to not only support our city businesses as they reopen, but also create beautiful outside eating and drinking zones for us all to enjoy.
“This is just another example of Coventry showing the rest of the UK how reopening after Covid should be done.”
Businesses can get in touch online to share their plans and identify where they need assistance.
Premises will need to complete a risk assessment which takes COVID-19 into account. Please be aware that this is a legal requirement within government guidance. Failure to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment could constitute a breach of health and safety law.