Agenda item

Café Pavement Policy - Pre-decision Scrutiny of this revised policy ( report to follow).


Paul Keeble delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions with Mark Hand.


In paragraphs 7 and 7.1, under resource implications: how much will the possible consultant cost? Will it be covered by the nominal £10 charge? If not, why not?

The £10 fee will not cover the additional expense of either internal staffing resource or a consultant, it is something we will have to take from our budget. We don’t have time with the interim policy to set and consult on a new fee, and get that agreed by a Cabinet member before the pre-election period starts. The best approach is to carry on for this interim period and resolve that once we’ve worked out what the costs are of delivering the service and set the fee accordingly next year.

Can this survey not be undertaken in-house by our own employees?

We don’t have enough staff. We had agreement back in July to fill a number of vacant posts and create additional ones; we are still working through that process. Filling those posts has been a time-consuming and problematic task, and a number of vacancies remain. We therefore don’t yet have the in-house resource, given all the other work that the team is doing.

When the arrangements have been agreed, and the areas delineated, will there be some way of alerting the visually impaired with something on the ground, if there are no barriers?

Where there are barriers, they will be covered, to assist partially sighted persons. any other suggestions as to how we can improve awareness would be gladly received. This would be part of the reviewing process, when we engage with the various groups.

The report mentions ‘pedestrians’ i.e. those who are walking. But there are other users of the route – is there a better term that could be used?

This is a good point but we aren’t sure what else could be used.

Everyone with a licence must have a minimum £5m liability insurance. What assurances do you have that all the licenced premises have and maintain this insurance?

Insurance is part of the licencing process – it is a legal agreed document, and we would need to see proof of their public liability insurance before granting a licence. It is a condition of the licence.

Are we dealing with cases of cafes over-extending their boundaries?

Yes, there is a tendency to this, which we picked up in the Evaluation section, as disabled persons are often affected when a business pushes its boundaries further out. This is why, as part of the interim policy, there needs to be a marked-up plan that is monitored regularly so that when we carry out our highways safety inspections, we will go out and inspect the areas and ensure that they match the arrangements on the plan. We could consider putting markers down on the carriageway, as we progress. We will have a better idea of how to manage this once the pandemic settles down.

We wouldn’t want the policy to be so restrictive that people can’t continue as they are now, unless it is unsafe to do so. For example, the matter of storing food and drink outside. Could there be special circumstances for this, such as during the Abergavenny Food Festival?

This probably relates more to the Environmental Health side, as food standards would need to be met. So, if the premises don’t provide food or drinks then the interim policy we propose wouldn’t allow them to have a licence because they wouldn’t meet the food standards requirements. Food festivals are managed as different events – they wouldn’t be appropriate to the pavement café licences.

Regarding removing furniture, is there a dispensation for furniture that is already there that hasn’t been a hazard?

At the moment, we propose that everything should be removed outside the hours, to maintain a clear highway, as they could be vandalised or cause damage. Some structures are permitted on the highway, though these would still need careful consideration as access needs to be maintained for maintenance or utility works. The King’s Head in Chepstow is an example: due to the slope of the seating area, an area was made to allow tables and chairs, which can’t realistically be cleared away every night, so special arrangements were put in place for that. But in the majority of cases, it would be expected that tables, chairs and barriers are removed each night, as is done on the continent.

What’s the policy with A Boards?

The intention is to widen the policy as part of the review, to cover A Boards and the advertising side of things, including advertising on umbrellas, banners, etc. Currently, in the policy there shouldn’t be, to preserve the environment and make the towns more attractive but it is something to be considered in the future and would be an opportunity to take feedback from the businesses and consumers. We wanted to avoid the situation where any space available was being used to advertise.

Are there areas where a neighbouring business is willing for a café/restaurant to use the frontage of their premises?

If there were agreement by the neighbours then we might be able to consider it, but we would have to put that possibility in the policy, as most adjoining businesses wouldn’t want encroachment in front of their premises.

Is it definitely wood or metal only? There is some strong and solid plastic furniture.

Yes, some plastics could be as pleasing in appearance, but this is also about the reduced use of plastic, where possible. Wood and metal are generally of a higher standard and therefore appearance, but it could potentially be considered further as we progress.

Apparatus will be placed on public highways. Would it be feasible to look into the option of leasing that section to the relevant business, rather than the council being solely responsible for it?

We could look at a lease for MCC’s own land but not for the public highway because it is governed by the Highways Act, which sets out the legal framework. Any apparatus placed on the highway is considered to be an obstruction; the only way they can be permitted is via a licence from the Highways department. It’s not uncommon for us to grant licences for many things, but that is the process, as we need to ensure a number of criteria are met in doing so.

So, the sole responsibility is with the Highways department to manage?

Mostly yes, but also in consultation with Licensing and Environmental Health colleagues – we all have an input.

Chair’s Summary:

Thank you for the report. We have scrutinised the policy and proposal to review the policy, including the application fee, during 2022, to reflect changes in legislation and best practice with an amended policy and fee structure reported to the Cabinet Member for approval. This will include consultation with business forums and other interested parties, whose suggestions will be considered as part of the updated policy. It is good to see that the policy will be consulted on and reviewed throughout the period, as that will be needed to make this work.

We hope that the points made by members will be taken into consideration, particularly relating to the visually impaired and exceptions made for leaving tables and chairs outside, materials used, and food and drink.

The committee wishes these points to be included as recommendations.


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