Council U-turns on ‘alfresco dining charge’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Change of plan: pubs in Westminster can utilise al fresco dining without any charges, the council has now said
Change of plan: pubs in Westminster can utilise al fresco dining without any charges, the council has now said

Related tags: Licensing, Al fresco, Westminster city council, London

Westminster City Council has scrapped plans to charge pubs, restaurants and cafés for the use of outside areas.

Reports from City AM ​stated the council was planning to charge hospitality business for using outside spaces from next month (November).

It said there would be a £7 fee per square metre of outside space, per day once the existing ‘al fresco’ scheme ends on Saturday 31 October.

Desperate times

Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan said: “We recognise restaurants are facing desperate times, which is why we introduced the summer al fresco dining scheme and have extended it to the winter.

“In view of additional central Government funding announced on Thursday 22 October, we are able to cover costs of the winter scheme so restaurants and bars can serve customers without any extra cost being charged by the council.”

She also tweeted: “To clarify, we are not asking restaurants and bars to pay any extra fees for al fresco dining this winter, further funding will allow us to meet costs. Hospitality industry faces desperate times and we are here to help.”

The council’s website revealed an “extensive guide” setting out details available to the hospitality sector over the coming months.

This included support for heaters and umbrellas over the winter months and the associated application process alongside the process for permitting outside tables and chairs.

Financial strain

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This U-turn from Westminster Council is welcome. London’s hospitality sector needs all the help it can get right now, rather than short-sighted, counter-productive charges that will only add to the financial strain so many are facing.”

London has been in the Government’s tier two restrictions since XX, which bans households from mixing indoors.

The ability to trade outside will give pubs the opportunity to keep covers and ensure Covid-safe guidelines are adhered to.

Related topics: Licensing law

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