Minutes of Public Meeting on Alfresco Dining Charges on 10th Nov 2011
Public meeting to consider opposition to Cheshire East Council's
Alfresco dining charging system
Sandbach Enterprise Centre, 7.00pm, 10th November 2011.
Present: Larry Sharps Chair of Meeting, Dot Flint (Sandbach Partnership), Hazel Warr (La Casa Vecchia), Elena Fragola (Fragola’s Bistro), Elaine Kelly (Re-dress Agency), Carol Williams, Cllr Lyndsey Chadwick, Cllr Elsie Alcock
Meeting convened to discuss how we respond to CEC’s letter of 24th October 2011to STAR and its policy to charge an annual licence for alfresco seating. Three options available:-
- Pay the agreed licence fees
- Oppose the policy and licence fees
- Agree with the policy but oppose payment of licence fee
Elsie proposed that we should be able to have up to 5 tables Free of charge (which would cover all businesses currently using tables) above 6 tables could be charged for. Dot stated that there has always been a charge for tables and chairs by the council but it hasn’t always been implemented. Alderley Edge has been used to paying as Macclesfield council have always implemented a charge. All towns may not have charges yet but they will come in time. This would have a negative effect on visitors and the amount of time they would spend in our town thus being detrimental to both economy and ambience of the town. European cities and other cultures do not tax their alfresco dining community. It is a stealth tax on businesses who already pay a great deal in business rates. CEC say they are not introducing this for profit but to make sure that “clear and consistent standards are met whilst ensuring the safety of those with a visual impairment or limited mobility”. Business owners are sensible enough to realise this without the need for bureaucratic intervention. Would this lead to further regulations and taxing of businesses with fruit and veg on display, basketware or florists flowers?
The Government encourage eating establishments to cater for smokers by providing an outside area in which to smoke. People with wheelchairs and mobility scooters and dog owners also benefit from the use of outdoor seating and would be actively discouraged if it was not available.
- First action will be for STAR to reply to Cllr Rod Menlove to say we agree with the need for a policy but we are not paying any licence fees. Larry will draft letter with input from Hazel and Elena in time for next STAR meeting on 15th November. A hard copy will then be sent along with hard copy to CEC Chief Executive and all 8 members of the CEC Cabinet at Westfields. Action LS HW EF
- Second action Leader of CEC Wesley Fitzgerald is visiting Sandbach on Wednesday 30th November at 9.30 a.m. at SECE, Wesley Avenue. STAR will be doing a short presentation on how we engage with the town businesses. This would be good opportunity for a couple of cafe/restaurant owners to be present to put their views. He will also be walking around town afterwards – another opportunity for business owners to engage with him. Action STAR
- Further actions
- Compile list of other Chambers of Trade in CEC area and contact names. Action DF LS
- Discuss with Fiona Bruce MP at meeting with her on 19th November whether any argument for legal precedence for businesses such as Black Bear and The Crown who have had tables outside for many years. Also Government laws re provision for smokers and disabled access. Action LS HW
- Compile list of other Chambers of Trade in CEC area and contact names.
Meeting closed at 8.10 p.m.