Doncaster Council tells bars to take tables down at 11pm on private land
Pub bosses say Doncaster Council insists they cannot have seats on Lazarus Court after 11pm – even though the authority doesn’t own it.
Landlords hoped to leave seats out on the privately owned, enclosed space which links East Laith Gate and Hall Gate, until late. But council officers insist they must close them at 11pm, the same as tables on the pavement.
When pubs first re-opened outside in April, pavement licences allowed them to open until 1am. But when more venues re-opened after indoor opening was allowed, that was moved forward to 11pm. At the time, officials said it reflected concerns expressed by the police about public safety risks and increased numbers of people, given more premises were opening.
Chris Coughlin, who runs O Donegans, on Hall Gate, said: “It’s been a complete nightmare. Last Saturday, we got to 10.30pm and had a full area of 70 people sitting out on the pavement, all having to leave at the same time.
“They are also telling that we cannot use our tables and chairs on Lazarus Court, which is not outdoors, and which I understand is land the council does not own.
"Last Saturday, every table was full, but people had to leave at 10.30. Then we have to put tables away by 11pm.
"I was in Leeds last week - they had their tables and chairs out all night. I think they’re pushing people out to other towns.”
He said he estimated closing the outside area at 10.30 was costing him £2,000 on a Saturday night.
Dan Swaine, director of economy and environment, at the council, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have worked incredibly hard to help our local businesses through these unprecedented times.
"We have offered lots of advice and support and helped them to access a range of grants. This includes grants for the purchase of outdoor equipment and furniture by hospitality businesses to get them successfully trading again. Through our economic recovery plan we are committed to supporting our Doncaster businesses which includes a buy local promotional campaign.
“We have worked closely with partners and premises to support a safe and successful reopening of the hospitality sector since April. This included supporting the safe use of outdoor space until 1am, where appropriate, to allow premises to trade while the indoor areas could not be used.
“Since May 17 when indoor space could be used again, and given the majority of premises in the town centre reopened, we have continued to support them as much as we can. We have continued to allow them to use outdoor space from 8am in the morning through to 11pm in the evening and premises can continue using their indoor space until their agreed licensed hours. These trading permissions apply to premises in the Lazarus Court as that is a public highway. This was backed by advice from South Yorkshire Police.
“These changes were introduced to ensure the safety of people enjoying our night time economy given the higher footfall. The 11pm outdoor licence is consistent with schemes operated in other towns and cities. Most licensees have engaged with us to ensure they have the appropriate permissions in place to trade legally and ensure that those who use Doncaster’s night time economy are safe.”