June may have been a washout so far – but one Calverley & Farsley member of Leeds City Council has called on the authority to allow more bars and restaurants to serve customers in the streets of West Leeds and beyond as lockdown eases, writes Richard Beecham.
Leader of the council’s opposition Conservatives group Cllr Andrew Carter claims many businesses have been concerned that two metre social distancing guidelines could make it commercially difficult to reopen.
He suggests the city should look at allowing cafes and restaurants to apply for temporary event notices (TENs), which would allow them to put out tables and chairs and serve customers outside.
A council spokesperson claimed government guidance needed to be issued before it could look at using TENs to help establishments operate outdoors, but added it was working with businesses to help them start operating again.
TENs allow premises to carry out licensable activities where they are currently unlicensed to do so – they are most often used by bars to request permission to open beyond their licensed hours to accommodate special events.
But Coun Carter suggests a similar initiative is being introduced by Westminster Council and has urged the council leadership to “get creative” to make it easier for the hospitality sector to get back on its feet. He said:
“The city’s cafés, bars and restaurants are eager to reopen their doors, but we know that many of them will be concerned about how they can be profitable under current social distancing guidelines. One way of helping them would be for the council to allow businesses to make more use of outdoor space, without having to go through the usual planning process.
“Temporary Event Notices can be applied for and granted more quickly and could allow businesses to use outdoor space for the crucial summer months, and give them the capacity to serve many more customers.
“Broader legislation from the government is expected on this, but other councils aren’t waiting for that and are taking their own action to give their local hospitality sector a boost. Leeds should do the same.
“It’s time to get creative and put in place the measures necessary to allow Leeds’ cafés, bars and restaurants to hit the ground running once they do get the all-clear to reopen their doors. I hope the council will seriously consider this proposal.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“We need government guidance to be issued before any change can be made to the current need for licensed premises to apply for TENs to allow them to make use of outdoor areas.
“We are holding regular meetings with key partners to discuss putting in place a simplified process for the hospitality and leisure industry to begin operating in Leeds again.
“These conversations include progressing a streamlined street café process for both the city centre and outer districts, however we are waiting for further government guidance before any decisions can be taken.”