Nick Heywood, the boss of Louth sweet shop Jassies Max, has said he is “flabbergasted” at Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to ban him from having two tables and chairs outside the front of his shop due to the pavement being 40 centimetres too narrow.
Lincolnshire County Council’s (LCC) Highways Department has a fixed minimum distance of 1.8 metres between the boundary of the seating areas and the kerb, to ensure that busy pedestrian areas are kept clear of obstruction.
Although the tables outside Jassies Max have been there for the past three months, a LCC spokesperson said earlier this week that there is only room for one table and two chairs. A parking ticket machine opposite the shop front narrows the gap to 1.4 metres on part of the pavement, meaning that the other table and two chairs will have to be moved around to the Mercer Row side of the shop.
Mr Heywood points out that this is right next to a bus stop. He said: “Although on this side the 1.8 metre gap has been adhered to, this is a bus stop so at some points there can be over 30 people stood here waiting to catch a bus. As I’m sure you can appreciate, that’s not really suitable for a retail business.
“There is obviously a greater health and safety issue if we put the seating right next to the bus stop. I hope that common sense will prevail.”
Mr Heywood also says that he was initially told that purchasing a cafe street license was “not essential”, but was later told that he would indeed need to buy one at a cost of £250. However, the Highways Department have denied that Mr Heywood was initially told that the licence was not essential.
Mr Heywood said: “I have no objection to paying the cafe licence, but it’s the way they’ve gone about it that has frustrated me.
“All I’m trying to do is enhance the local business and encourage people to come into the town, to come and sit in the market square and drink coffee out of the coffee cup instead of a takeaway cup.
“Unfortunately it feels like, as a small business, we are being picked on again. It would be nice to have some support from the council instead of the hindrance they give us all the time.
“To set up my two shops in Louth, Jassies and Jassies Max, I have put in excess of £100,000 into the town because that is my long-term commitment. Unfortunately, every time we try to move forward or modernise, we get opposed by the council.
“There is an easy and obvious solution - for the sake of 40cm, just let us leave the chairs and tables where they are!”
Responding to Mr Heywoods comments, Dean Myhill (area highways manager at Lincolnshire County Council) said:
“The county council supports small businesses and wants to encourage trade wherever possible.
“However, we still have to be mindful that tables and chairs on the pavement can cause an obstruction to pedestrians, especially those with prams or mobility issues, and can also pose a danger to people with impaired vision.
“For this reason, councils across the county require businesses to apply for a street cafe licences if they want to put tables and chairs on public land. This obviously doesn’t apply to private land.
“We set a minimum distance of 1.8 metres between the boundary of the seating area and the kerb and this is to ensure that in busy pedestrian areas, pedestrians can walk along sufficiently and without obstruction. The location on Market Place is busy and only wide enough to fit one table and two chairs adjacent to the shop doorway and so we have suggested that Mr Heywood considers making use of the area fronting Mercer Row, which is wider.
“I do appreciate that this is a location where bus passengers tend to wait, but we feel that if the tables and chairs are positioned close to the shop building and are protected by some form of enclosure then this is an area that could be considered.
“We intend to relay this information, together with an application form, to Mr Heywood and await his response.”
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