Licence Demands Push Traders To Their Threshold

Council officials ask for £750 for businesses to use private land

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Business owners of Devonshire Road were shocked when they received a visit from council officials asking them to produce pavement licences they didn’t realise they needed.

A £750 a year pavement licence fee was demanded from all the businesses who use their private forecourts to conduct business ie. Classic Image Café, Pickwicks and La Trompette and also from those who simply placed tables and chairs as decoration.

Like Genco’s Bharat who told, “I'm just trying to make the street look nice. Needing a licence to place a table and chairs on land I own under my lease agreement is absolutely ridiculous."

He continued, "In the eyes of the council, if I charged people 50p to come onto my land then it would make it private land. Because I don’t charge people to step onto my land, it makes it public. It makes no difference whether I am trading from it or not.”

“I’ve even have letters from the council referring to my private forecourt,” said another trader who owns the freehold of the land in front of her business. “I own this land and the council still want me to pay to use it.”

“We pay thousands in business rates, we have to pay someone else to come and collect our rubbish and now this. We’ve hit a threshold, there is no more money. What does the council want, a ghost town? That’s what will happen if these demands continue businesses can't survive.”

A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said, “Strictly speaking, the law says anyone selling or supplying goods or service within seven metres of any public street or footpath must have a street trading licence.”

He continued, “However, due to the concerns of businesses, we are actually reviewing the situation and won't be pursuing the matter, until that is resolved.”

September 26, 2008