Cafe culture in Northumberland town prompts concerns over street clutter

Councillors have warned that Alnwick’s burgeoning street cafe scene is getting out of control.

By Ian Smith
Friday, 10th September 2021, 5:35 pm
Narrowgate in Alnwick.
Narrowgate in Alnwick.

Several town centre cafes and bars have put more chairs and tables outside their premises as a result of the Covid pandemic.

However, members of Alnwick Town Council have expressed concern that wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs are having increased difficulty getting around.

Cllr Peter Broom raised the issue after witnessing a wheelchair user struggling to negotiate Narrowgate while it was packed with tables and chairs.

Alnwick Market Place.

"The pedestrianised area at Narrowgate has become a cafe forecourt,” he said. “The kerbs aren’t dropped and they had an absolute nightmare. I just thought that this has got to stop.

"An inspector needs to go around and actually tell them that they can’t do this. Narrowgate has been completely taken over and that’s not what it was about.”

He also said there were issues on Market Place.

"They are leaving a gap but then have their A-boards in the gap and you can’t get through there, especially on a busy weekend,” said Cllr Broom. “I think it’s common decency to abide by the rules.”

Alnwick Market Place.

He was supported by Mayor Lynda Wearn and other councillors.

Cllr Martin Swinbank, Alnwick county councillor, said he would take the concerns back to officers.

"I take the points on board and I know there are some concerns,” he said. “It’s going to have to be tightened up because with the Covid rules it was very relaxed. Clearly it can’t continue in that vein. People have to be able to get past with a buggy or wheelchair.”

Cllr Broom responded: “I love the Market Place because it’s absolutely buzzing. It’s great to see people enjoying the sunshine and having a beer or a coffee but it has to be right.”

Last year, hospitality businesses were given the opportunity to sign up for a fast-track pavement licence to place removable furniture over parts of the pavement next to their premises to serve food and drink.

But they must make sure their proposals consider the safety and access needs of others, particularly wheelchair users, parents with pushchairs and those with low vision.

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