Everything that reasonably can be done will be done to support the successful reopening of cafés, bars and pubs by allowing them to use public highway space, the County Council has assured North Yorkshire businesses.
As the hospitality and tourism industry prepares to reopen in July following the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, North Yorkshire County Council wants to work with organisations and businesses at every level.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We are very sympathetic to the needs of hospitality businesses and recognise the importance of an industry that employs thousands of people and adds more than £920m annually to the county’s economy.
“We will do everything we can to support businesses seeking to use some of the public highway to facilitate trade at a very difficult time. We want to work with borough and district councils, Business Improvement Districts, chambers of trade and individual businesses to consider the most appropriate use of the highway to support social distancing and to help hospitality businesses to trade legitimately.”
For example, in Harrogate the County Council’s highways team has been visiting businesses to understand the pressures of reopening and to find out how best to support them. They were able to give advice to businesses, while considering the safe implementation of any plans and the need to accommodate the travelling public.
Jim Mossman, co-founder of the Cold Bath Brewing Co and representative of Harrogate BID, said: “I’m delighted to say that we are engaged on behalf of the BID with NYCC. We are looking at how we can move forward with pedestrianised zones compatible for food and drink businesses. We want to create a cosmopolitan and European-style zone where we can affect our trade and be transformational in terms of saving jobs and businesses.”
Michael Baravelli, general manager at Gino D'Acampo, is looking forward to welcoming customers through the doors during the important summer season. He said: “We are working alongside North Yorkshire County Council with the idea and suggestion of putting extra seating outside to give us more street presence. In these summer days it will help us immensely.”
The authority stressed that it was essential to balance the requirements of everybody who needs to use the highway.
David Bowe, Corporate Director for Business and Environmental Services, added: “We are prepared to close roads in order to support economic recovery but it has to be on the basis of demand and need. If there is a road that we can practically close, even for part of a day, without adversely affecting access, we will be happy to work to achieve that, provided a business definitely wants to use the space. We are not proposing to close roads unless there is a clear demand.”
So if businesses have a clear need and ideas on how to meet it, they should contact the County Council.
Mr Bowe said: “We would like people to come forward if they feel they need our support. If you have ideas that would facilitate the reopening of the hospitality industry in North Yorkshire, please get in touch and we will do what we can to find a solution.”
Appropriate legal measures need to be taken, such as road closures and café licensing, which the Government has recently amended, but initially businesses should contact the County Council and speak to their local highways office.
Road closures inevitably come at a cost and the County Council will work with its partners to seek an appropriate way to fund any measures introduced.