The Chairperson welcomed Mr. C. Smyth, Licensee and invited him to make his representation.
Mr. Smyth clarified that despite being granted a second temporary Pavement Café Licence, he was unable to establish the Santeria cocktail bar, 19 Fountain Street as the land was currently being adversely possessed by the owner of 23 Fountain Street who had taken a legal action to prevent the café being put there. He added that if the land had been the property of the owner of 23 Fountain Street, then he shouldn’t have been granted a pavement café licence. Mr. Smyth advised that he had informed DfI of this matter to which DfI had declined interest. He informed the Committee that the only pavement café Voodoo had was the one shared with City Picnic in the middle of Fountain Street. He informed the Committee that the ambition for the area was to create vibrancy with limited investment due to the temporary arrangement which had been recognised by the Committee. He highlighted that energy costs were now more of an issue than Rates costs which had resulted in businesses closing. He stated that it was gracious of the Council to extend the temporary pavement café arrangement. He referred to the 4-day notice from DfI to vacate which had led him to seek political and media support which had bought time. He referred to the option of moving alongside Norwich Union House which was a possibility however, the matter of the demolition of Norwich Union House was live. He advised the Committee that he had had discussions with McAleer and Rushe who had informed him that the demolition of Norwich Union House would not take place for about 4 months due to conservation rules.
Mr. Smyth recognised the safety issues caused by reversing vehicles however, he agreed with a Member’s point that the situation needed proper management.
A Member asked Mr. Smyth about the proposal of moving Voodo’s pavement café to Castle Street. He replied that the proposal was never to move to Castle Street as it was too detached from the business. Moving it to Castle Street would create security implications due to removing it from the line of sight especially as Voodoo was largely a night-time business and there were drug and alcohol issues in the area.
Another Member asked if this situation would have an impact on jobs and the business especially on the run up to Christmas. Mr. Smyth stated it would have an impact if the pavement café can’t be moved and approved and referred to the current difficulty of hiring staff. Mr. Smyth highlighted the visual improvements to the area which had been created by Voodoo and City Picnic.
Mr. McFarlane asked the Council’s legal advisors if the pavement café legislation allowed for a café to be placed on what was technically a public road. He reassured Mr. Smyth that DfI would work with him and reminded the Committee it was DfI that had approached City Picnic in relation to moving to Castle Street. Mr. Lawther added they would continue to work with the licensees to evolve the agreement however, the issue was the occupation of a public road which was open to the public. He asked that these licences be relocated off the public road to a more appropriate space.
The Interim City Solicitor/Director of Legal and Civic Services responded to the issues and criticisms raised by DfI. She advised that DfI’s decision to re-open the road was in the full knowledge that the pavement café licences would be affected. She referred to the definition of the location for which pavement café licences could be granted; and clarified that pavement café licences may be issued in respect of any public area and was defined by any area the public had access to without payment as of right which includes roads.
A Member expressed that she was glad that the will of the Committee was for deferral and requested more information from DfI in relation to a proper analysis of road safety in the area.
The Committee agreed to defer the review of the Pavement Café Licence to enable all stakeholders to discuss the matter further to find a solution and mutual consensus.