Anger as council orders Doncaster pubs to shut pavement tables two hours earlier from Monday

Pub owners are furious after Doncaster Council announced it will force them to shut their pavement areas at 11pm from Monday.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 5:24 pm

Bars have been allowed to open outside seating areas on the pavements until 1am for the last five weeks, under special ‘pavement licences.

But today the council has said that it will change the licence so that they have to shut at 11pm when stage three of the Government road map comes in, which sees hospitality and entertainment venues able to operate at limited capacity indoors from May 17.

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Chris Coughlan, O'Donegan's owner and Ian Bailey, Mason Arms owner, pictured with staff members. Picture: NDFP-30-03-21-O'Donegan's 1-NMSY

Pubs, who have lost tens of thousands of pounds during lockdown and had to take out Government loans to survive, say they change will cost them thousands of pounds a night.

Chris Coughlan, who runs O’Donegans, on Hall Gate, described the change as ‘crazy’, and said there had been no consultation with businesses.

He said: “We’ve heard nothing about this until today.

"We have not been given input on this. There has not been an incident here in five weeks.

"We have al fresco eating and drinking now like in mainland Europe, which is why they made changes to Hall Gate and Silver Street. People are staying out until midnight outside. That was what they spent £5 million for, yet they’re not letting us stay open there. Do they want people to jump on trains to other towns?

“It’s bonkers. They spent all that money, to close it.

“I’d just employed seven people this week to allow for opening up some space indoors. Now what do I do?

"This change will cost me £2,000 a night. This area does not get busy until 10pm. There’s no trade during the day."

He said he will only be able to have 80 people indoors, compared to 220 pre-pandemic. Furniture also has to be taken inside the building, removing indoor space.

The council says about 30 per cent of town centre premises have been trading using outdoor areas, including those who have been given permission to place tables and chairs on the streets, enabling them to offer an extended outdoor area. As restrictions lift, more premises are expected to open.

Director of economy and environment, Dan Swaine said: “We have been closely monitoring the current alfresco licensing which has enabled venues to use pavement space for hospitality until 1am.

"With the further easing of restrictions allowing venues to operate inside from Monday, we have made the decision to continue to enable these pubs and bars to open their alfresco areas on the highway until 11pm. We hope that this will provide a balance between indoor and outdoor capacity and support a higher footfall for those businesses who still wish to operate an outdoor service.

“We are continually monitoring this and will review the situation after week one, and in the weeks preceding June 21 when further easing of restrictions are due to be implemented. After this date, we will look to put in place more formal licensing arrangements for individual premises, ensuring we provide a safe environment for people to enjoy our evening economy.”

When pubs re-opened outdoors in April, it was initially proposed that the pavement licences should only be until 10pm. That was extended after concerns were raised by businesses.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.