“Ridiculous” fee proposal dumbfounds businesses

Photo: Stephen McKay

A controversial proposal to increase licence fees for Hackney businesses using outside tables and chairs has been delayed for further consultation.Hackney Council has extended the consultation process until April 4, because the council want “to ensure [they] get all the views of those involved.”

The council is planning on changing the charging structure from a flat rate to a charge per square metre. The charges will affect all businesses using street space to trade.

A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “Traders are being sent a booklet and questionnaire and are being encouraged to provide feedback by filling it in and sending it back to the Council. Any change will only happen after all representations received by the Council have been considered.”

The current licence fee for chairs and tables is flat rate of £390 every 12 months. The proposed fee charge per square metre will be replaced by a biannual charge, which is divided into three bands.

Traders claim that this could mean a price increase of up to 240 per cent.

The manager of The Dove Freehouse on Broadway Market, who asked not to be named, said: “Its ridiculous, the council don’t understand the business of small businesses, especially pubs. We won’t be able to afford the licences.”

A number of Broadway Market businesses argue that they should not have to pay the shop front trading licence fee. They say that they own the land in front of their properties and can use the space as they see fit, including providing tables and chairs for their customers.

Tony Davies, 34, a Hackney resident, said: “So the council has this great vision for Hackney in the future and then decide that people being happy and enjoying themselves might not portray the right image?

“Sitting outside enjoying something to eat or drink in the sun is something we all enjoy. And surely it penalises wheelchair users who may struggle to get inside certain buildings,” he added.

Pat Thompson, 45, who lives close to Broadway Market, said: “The councillors are certainly working to make the borough the biggest laughing stock in London local government.”

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