AN up-and-coming councillor has spoken out against proposals that could see shops and restaurants having to apply for licenses to put seating outside.
Conor Wileman, who represents the Burton Tower Ward on Staffordshire County Council, contacted the Mail to voice his concerns over the suggested move.
This comes after East Staffordshire Borough Council revealed that it was looking at making owners of pubs, cafes and bars have a licence for outdoor seating as well as looking at cracking down on advertising boards used outside of premises.
Councillor Wileman said: “Small businesses already struggle with red tape and bureaucracy created by Government and by local councils.
“Who will pay for these licenses because if it is not the business then it will be the taxpayer paying through their council tax?
“Further, the council ‘will draw up a policy stating what is acceptable in terms of size, position, etc’ of advertising boards.
“What the council fails to realise is the cost of a licence to the taxpayer and the burden for businesses who will no doubt have to fill in more paperwork.
“Rejuvenating our town centre is a must but these are ill thought out and quite frankly ridiculous measures.”
The council believes some boards present a hazard to people with disabilities, while also making the town centre look unattractive, but added it was ‘keen to strike a balance between the competing needs of businesses, residents and visitors to the borough’.
The authority is also proposing to make establishments apply for a licence to continue to allow customers to sit outside, with any that do not comply or fail to meet expected standards set to lose the privilege
The borough council conceded there would be a cost to business owners but said the proposal would mean seating areas would be formally regulated.
Council leader Julian Mott said: “There are 121 A boards in Burton. They can lead to cluttered streets and technically are an obstruction under the Highways Act So the council wants to ensure that A boards do not block pavements. It will draw up a policy stating what is acceptable.”