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Licensing red tape ‘is losing businesses al fresco custom’

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‘DESPERATE’ hospitality businesses in St Helier have missed weeks of al fresco custom during the summer season because of the dysfunctional licensing system, the parish Constable has said.

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Hundreds of bars, restaurants and cafés were forced to close during the lockdown caused by Covid-19 and have since struggled to recover the same levels of custom because of physical distancing requirements.

A partial solution for many outlets has been to provide extended al fresco services, so customers can keep a safe distance from each other outside.

However, a number of businesses have faced difficulties and delays obtaining al fresco licences and have already missed a large section of the summer season as a result.

This has prompted St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft to again call for the parish, which is supportive of al fresco services, to receive devolved powers to speed up the process.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft (28928081)

‘This delay in granting al fresco licences to hospitality businesses that were desperate to get some external trading area has shown that the administration of al fresco is a very convoluted process,’ he said.

‘It’s no one’s fault. It’s simply because it involves the applicant going to numerous agencies – the Treasury, the parish and the States department which administers the land, probably the police as well – to find a licence.

‘There’s a lot of red tape involved and it’s one of the reasons why the parish decided last December to set up a Shadow Conseil Municipal, with the aim of having devolved powers.’

He added: ‘One of the things we have already looked at, and we have had Senator Steve Pallett – the assistant minister responsible for licensing – in for discussions about this, is having a single point of contact, a one-stop shop, for issuing al fresco licences, which we think should be the parish.

‘Those discussions have been progressing well and we will be seeking that default responsibility. These delays illustrates why it would make such good sense for us to have these devolved powers.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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