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Traders face licence demand

Independent food firms in Bognor Regis have been told to pay hundreds of pounds to carry on their outdoor trading.


The five premises face having to pay £520 a year for a licence to be able to place their tables and chairs on the pavements outside their premises.


The demand has come from West Sussex County Council. A second reminder to pay for the authorisation was sent out on Wednesday.


The companies affected have 14 days to pay – or face legal action if they want to continue using the public spaces to serve food.


Their only alternative is to take away their outdoor tables and chairs.


The worst affected company owner will be Jordan Angelov. His two businesses – T Bone Burger Restaurant in High Street and Station Road’s Syrup Cafe – will incur a combined charge of £1,040.


He said: “I will not pay the charge until they come up with a new plan. Why do I have to pay the same price for my businesses as those in the precinct.


“They have 9-10 tables and sets of chairs. I don’t mind that. They make the town centre look nice and a better place.


“But that makes it about £50 for each of them, which is easy to make back. T Bone Burger and Syrup Cafe both only have three sets of tables and sets of chairs. That’s a lot to pay for each table – and in areas with less footfall.


“I would not mind paying for each table but it should not be the same price for all of us. I’ve had Syrup Cafe for seven years and I’ve never had to pay this before.”


The case for the businesses has been taken up by Bognor Regis Business Improvement District.


Its co-ordinator, Heather Allen, has told them she had protested against the proposal to the county council and its leader, Cllr Louise Goldsmith.


“The BR BID agrees with the principle of a licence – we believe it is entirely reasonable for county to charge for chairs and tables positioned on their highways.However, on behalf of the businesses we represent, we take exceptional issue with the unreasonable way the current licence is calculated…


“The BR BID supports a licence which is fairly priced, i.e. a sliding scale based on quantifiable usage, whether that be number of covers or size of area covered.”


Ms Allen told the county council she expected the removal of any of the tables and chairs to have a negative impact on the town centre.


A county council spokeswoman said businesses had needed, for many years, to have a licence for tables and chairs to be placed on the highway.


“A licence is required so the county council can assess each location for its suitability to ensure granting it would not pose an unreasonable risk to other highway users or customers, and it is also important for the public liability of any business in the event of an accident,” she said.


The council had started to charge a fee because of its ongoing financial pressures. The charge covered the cost of the assessments, legal work and advertising and ongoing work on the scheme.


“We will be reviewing our charging mechanisms for next year in the autumn and, at that point, we will consider the benefits of a scheme which takes into account the size of the area occupied by the tables and chairs,” she added.

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