Just another stealth tax say angry businesses

Cafés up in arms over proposed street licence

By Ciara Quinn

ENJOYING your cup of tea or coffee outside on a pavement café as you watch the world go by could soon be a thing of the past if new legislation is introduced. Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has confirmed that legislation will be introduced to allow district councils to promote street cafés, but businesses will have to cough up for the privilege.

He said arrangements must be put in place to ensure “the controlled expansion of street cafés which is why I am introducing a statutory licensing scheme”.

Propertior of Macy’s Café on the Falls Road Seán Devlin told us that his outside seating area was already part of the home he bought to convert into a business.

“The area outside is the same as any garden, it’s just that we chose to tarmac over it and put out tables and chairs, create an outside seating area for our customers,” he said.

 

Summer

“We’ve had the facility for over three years and it is used in the summer time or when the school kids get out, they would sit underneath the awning, especially in the rain and wait for their bus.

“The seating outside doesn’t bring in a lot of revenue but at the end of a day it serves a purpose.”

Further on down the road at Ravenous Sandwich Bar, owner Johnny Walker told us the new legislation “is a load of nonsense”.

“The gas has gone up, the electric has gone up, rent, rates, stock, packaging, every single thing that we use, even down to the very oil we use in the pans has gone up and now this.

“The government brought in the smoking ban, which was fine for health and safety – you need some sort of area, table and chairs for customers to go and sit outside while they are at your business – and now add on a charge.”

Johnny said the busy sandwich bar has always been in the family and was a firm favorite with schools and businesses on the road.

“We’ve been here for ten years, having a place to sit outside adds something to the road, it gives the place a wee bit of life to see people sitting outside having a bite to eat.

“I think it is a big ask to be asking for yet more money. Water bills are coming in – where does it stop? Are they going to come in and hit us for something else as well? There are just too many rules and regulations now. There are no incentives for small businesses but yet there are no jobs out there for anybody that wants to go and work for somebody else.

“Businesses keep getting hammered across the board.”

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