Table tax plan scrapped

A POTENTIAL table tax which would charge café and restaurant owners to have seating on pavements outside their businesses has been scrapped.

Northumberland County Council came up with the scheme to bring all businesses under a single set of regulations, having inherited a number of different policies from the former district and borough councils.

But after a backlash from businesses and councillors, the idea was overturned and instead a set of guidleines has been drawn up with which cafés and others need to comply.

Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle, who is chairman of the economic prosperity and strategic services overview and scrutiny committee and has been fighting the issue, said: “This has been scrutiny doing its job properly.

“We reported the concerns of traders and have now done the job without bringing in unnecessary costs.”

The guidelines give traders information about which parts of public highways they are able to use and how to stay within their legal obligations.

To comply, an unobstructed, step and kerb-free path of no less than two metres wide should always be made available past or through the pavement café area.

In pedestrianised areas a strip of no less than three metres must be left between the outer extent of the pavement café and any other obstruction, for emergency vehicle access.

It also adds: “The council strongly recommends that tables, chairs and boundary fencing constructed of wood or metal are used, and plastic furniture avoided, in order to maintain a good quality streetscape for our towns and villages.”

The guidelines are to be discussed at the economic prosperity and strategic services overview and scrutiny committee on Monday.