Council prepares to help the hospitality sector get back to business
Birmingham City Council will ‘do all it can’ to help local restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars re-open safely following the Covid-19 pandemic.
A new government bill, which was discussed in Parliament on Monday 29 June, will mean that new temporary pavement licences can be applied for via a ‘fast-track’ application process, for a reduced fee of £100 and with a with a shortened 14-day process (5 working days for public consultation, 5 working day for considering the application).
The legislation is not expected to come into force until later this month, but the council is already starting work to ensure it is fully prepared for when it goes live. This includes the creation of an online application process and details around eligibility and enforcement.
Licences will be valid for up until September 30 2021; and must be approved by the council within 7 days subject to certain criteria, including the ability for pedestrians to use the highway safely.
Businesses that already have outside trading with tables and chairs can operate without applying for a license, however it is expected that existing arrangements will have to be risk-assessed to ensure safe queue up and social distancing. Eating and drinking establishments are being encouraged to implement ways to help this, including table service and app-based ordering.
Any new business who wants to create outdoor dining space on the adjacent pavement will need to apply for the new licence.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said:
“After a three-month absence from our city and suburbs, I know the industry will be keen to get back to businesses as quickly as possible and we are doing all we can to help businesses reopen in a safe and managed way.
“We know, for example, that some businesses may want to provide seating on the pavement outside their premises with the intention of serving more customers and potentially aiding social distancing. We want to support this, but again, safety must be the priority.
“So we are doing all we can to be ready for when the government introduces new legislation around temporary pavement licenses and in the meantime, I would urge businesses to read the government guidance on re-opening, risk-assess their premises and implement measures that will help their staff and customers stay safe.
“Understanding the maximum capacity of your business, coupled with the availability of hand washing facilities, stringent cleaning regimes, and one-way systems and barriers to separate bars and tables where possible.”
The UK government published guidance for hotels, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes to re-open safely last week (24 June). Specifically, it requires each establishment to look at its individual needs and take appropriate action to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
The council is also working with Business Improvement Districts, West Midlands Police, businesses and residents to look at other measures to create space, as part of the Emergency Transport Plan. This includes bringing forward public realm changes to support spill-out activity, closing some roads at certain times of the day and widening pavements in appropriate areas of the city.
Pavement widening measures have already been implemented on busy high streets in Kings Heath and Erdington and on Ladypool Road. The council also unveiled new social distancing measures in the city centre earlier this month, in response to non-essential retail re-opening.
Retail businesses, such as shops and supermarkets, have been asked to continue to keep the pavements clear from goods and advertising boards. This is to ensure that pedestrians can queue and walk on pavements safely, maintaining social distancing where possible.
More information on temporary pavement licences and how to apply can be found on the Government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pavement-licences-draft-guidance