Businesses in threat not to pay over rise in tables fees
A GROUP of Torquay harbourside businesses facing a 600 per cent hike in council charges for pavement table fees have threatened not to pay the new bill.
The cafes and bars in Vaughan Parade and Torwood Street have warned that up to 60 jobs could be put at risk.
Torbay Council owns the land where they put their tables and says it has a duty to taxpayers and other similar licence holders to charge the correct amount.
But the traders say the new charges of £200 per table a year in Vaughan Parade and £150 for Torwood Street, Fleet Street and Palk Street will cripple their businesses. For some it is a 600 per cent increase on their current bills and is more than the City of Westminster charges (£3,364) and more than double Plymouth (£1,500) and nearly 20 times Brighton (£311).
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The English Riviera Tourism Company, which has been actively promoting alfresco dining, also described it as 'disappointing'.
The bosses of Off Shore, Vaughans and Shiraz in Vaughan Parade, Bianco, Amici and the Clocktower have pleaded with Torbay Council to reconsider with the backing of the Torbay Town Centres Company. They have said they will only pay the same amount as 2012/13.
Brett Morton, of Offshore Bar and Restaurant, has 20 tables and now pays £560 for the licence which will increase to £4,000. He said they had written to the council saying they considered the way the council had decided on the rise was 'unreasonable', with 'no consultation, no justification, no equality between the various premises or with other areas, and no indication of how the new rates were fixed'.
The council's proposed alternative, that the traders use fewer tables, would hit their viability.
He said: "We have said we are not paying any more unless they contact us, talk to us and do it sensibly and carry out a fair consultation. We have had over a 100 comments of support on our Facebook page. I haven't spoken to anybody who agrees with it."
Rob Newman, of Kitsons solicitors acting for the licensees, said they had been told the matter is now with the council's legal department. He said: "We said to the council our clients want to work with the council and are not seeking confrontation, but do wish to be involved in a proper consultation process."
A Torbay Council spokesman said: "We are currently seeking advice from our legal team in respect of points raised in correspondence."