Martin Cox and Rob Bird welcome County Council U-turn on Charges for Outdoor Seating for Cafés, Pubs and Restaurants

Kent County Council has agreed to waive the £190 license fee it was charging for catering business for setting up tables and chairs outside their premises.  The fee will now be waived for 6 weeks. The move follows pressure from opposition councillors at County Hall and outcry from traders across the County.

Following three months of lock-down, the Government is keen to get businesses back into action with non-essential shops permitted to open from Monday, 15th June. It is hoped that cafés, restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen in July. 

However, it is crucial that these establishments enable people to maintain social-distancing if we are to avoid an increase in Coronavirus transmission rates.  Traders are therefore keen to make best use of the space available outside their premises during the summer months.

Anyone who has applied for a licence, but awaiting a decision from KCC, can from Monday place tables and chairs outside, although they must follow KCC’s new guidance. The new guidelines for street furniture mean tables and chairs must allow for a 2m clearance with 2.5m in busy locations to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

Martin Cox, Leader of the Council at Maidstone commented, “We are all keen to bring Maidstone and other Kent towns back to life as soon as possible. This concession is going to be particularly welcome for the many traders who have been shut down for the past 3 months.  It will also be very welcome for staff who have been stuck off work and, of course, for the public.

“It was ridiculous for the County Council to charge a small café £190 for the privilege of putting a couple of tables and half a dozen chairs on the pavement.  I am very pleased KCC has seen sense.”

Rob Bird, Leader of the Opposition at KCC and County Councillor for Maidstone Central added, "The £190 charge was ill-conceived and ill-judged. It should never have been considered.  KCC should be encouraging businesses to re-open, not putting up barriers.  This rapid U-turn is entirely appropriate."