Come outside

What with all the wonderful June weather, the granting of outdoor pavement licences – brought in to help pubs, restaurants and cafés continue trading during the Covid pandemic – have been welcomed by local businesses.

Pavement licences allow premises to rapidly set up an outside table and chairs area and aim to support local businesses to reopen and thrive.

The licences were brought in under the Business & Planning Act 2020 and are overseen by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s licensing team.

Currently 65 cafés, pubs, bars and restaurants in B&NES have been approved for pavement licences since applications opened in July 2020. The licenses originally ran until September 2021 but are now extended for businesses until September 2022.

A further 76 businesses have this year been granted the regular tables and chairs permits offered before the pandemic.

L-R: Councillor Richard Samuel, Louis Lewis-Smith from the Dark Horse in Bath, Councillor Kevin Guy

Councillor Kevin Guy, council Leader, went out to see for himself how well this was helping with a visit to the Dark Horse in Kingsmead Square which has a tables and chairs permit.

Louis Lewis-Smith from the Dark Horse said: “Trading through the pandemic has been incredibly tough. We’ve not received support in some areas where we expected to and at times it looked like we wouldn’t make it. I’ve worked with B&NES on extending the times and footprint of the outdoor area so we can now open safely with social distancing, seven days a week. We also extended the hours of operation allowing us to trade later in the evening, and in the daytime on weekends. This has allowed us to bring in a new chef and up our food game, giving vital extra revenue in this incredibly difficult time.

“The terrace at The Dark Horse has been hugely successful and the new food menu very well received. This lifeline of being able to trade outdoors was very, very welcome and I’m thankful to those at the council who made the process easy and were understanding of our needs as a business. Long live the Dark Horse!”

Councillor Kevin Guy said: “It was encouraging to see how many people were enjoying outdoor hospitality when I visited the city centre this week. Businesses have faced serious challenges since March 2020 and we need to offer as much support as we can to ensure they recover and flourish. Our pavement licence approvals are helping hospitality traders to provide safe experiences for residents and tourists as they enjoy Bath and North East Somerset once more.

“It’s important to reiterate though that in light of this week’s Government announcement, we must all continue to follow the guidance around social distancing. It may be disappointing, but we must remember that we are not out of the woods yet and the sensible thing to do is to exercise caution. Our licensing and health protection teams have been visiting premises to help them with Covid safety measures. If you’re out and about enjoying the Euro 2020 celebrations in a group, make sure you keep yourself and others safe.”

Pavement licences have a five-day consultation period and cost £100. They differ from the tables and chairs permits that were required prior to the pandemic. Businesses can find out more and apply here.

The Visage Gallery in Bath has also acknowledged the role the council played in supporting its business throughout the pandemic.

James Dillon at Visage Gallery said: “I can only report to you how brilliant and thoughtful your team at the council has been this last year and more. Without their hard work, support, and very kind and informative emails I really do not think I would have survived.”

This week the council has extended the support offered to local businesses by opening a temporary High Street Hub at Cheap Street in Bath. The Hub provides quick access to council services to help businesses thrive as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.