New Fees ‘Could Destroy Chiswick’s Café Culture’
Local businesses threatened with fivefold increase in street trading costs
Cafes and restaurants on Chiswick High Road with tables outside on the pavement could face a large increase in fees under new proposals from Hounslow Council.
The most recent budget proposal included increases in the fees for street trading which local business owners say represent a five-fold rise. The Council claim that they had previously been significantly undercharging for administering the system. In response to a letter of complaint from a local business a Council Officer responded that the process had been analysed and the existing charges did not cover the costs.
Costs to provide pavement dining likely to rise significantly
The regulations that cover the service allow Councils to make reasonable cost recovery for any licensing scheme but not to run it as a revenue generating venture. They are allowed to include administrative costs, material costs and compliance visits. Hounslow’s Licensing department claim that they are just bring fees in line with other boroughs. They say that costs in Hammersmith and Fulham range from £744 to £3,649 for six months and in Brent you can pay up to £3,451.
David Lesniak of Outsider Tart said, “The council has failed to outline specific costs, rather they paint with a very broad brush without accurate numbers. Under the proposal, we would pay more to seat 4 people 1-2 days a week than we pay to seat 16 people 6-7 days a week.” He added that he believed that the move would threaten street trading along Chiswick High Road. His current trading license fee is around £425 but under the new regime he would have to pay £2,230, a fivefold increase.
Cllr. John Todd urged Hounslow Council to review the changes without delay saying, “An unannounced fivefold increase is simply outrageous and unjustified. I hope Hounslow Council review these draconian measures without delay. The sharp rise is wholly unmerited, punitive and the related impact on traders, as evidenced by David's Lesniak’s explanation, materially adverse. It's yet another example of this Labour Administration burdening business with additional costs for no material benefit.”
Another local business owner pointed out that as Chiswick High Road raised more money in fines on motorists than any other road in the UK, it was already making a substantial contribution to the Council’s coffers. He said that the 'cafe culture' was an aspect of Chiswick that made it such a sought after area and the new charges could end that.
We have asked Hounslow Council for additional comment but have yet to receive a response.
March 28, 2015