Gants Hill trader fears business ‘collapse’ over outside seating charges

A Gants Hill bar owner has complained about the “extortionate” cost of having an outside seating area and fears he will have to get rid of it.

Earlier this year the charge for a pavement pitch was �increased by 50 per cent to �3,000 per year, which Darren Bullman, who runs The Bar in Woodford Avenue, said he cannot justify.

“I’ve worked long hours for my money and I don’t want to give it all to the council,” he said. “The outside area is a very �important part of my business because it looks nice and it makes the area look nice.

“But if the fee remains this high I’m going to have to �collapse it and then we are just going to have a bland street.”

Chairman of the council’s �licensing committee Cllr Ruth Clark agrees the cost is too high and said the council is looking into reviewing the whole street trading fee structure.

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Mr Bullman’s pavement area includes two tables and three benches. It seats 19 and has standing for about 20 more.

He added: “I’m creating an �environment for the people of Redbridge to come and enjoy and make the area look good.

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“I’ve won awards for bringing people to the area for my ale but I’m getting nothing out of it.”

Mr Bullman is hoping for a �review that brings the cost alongside other London �boroughs and thinks this year’s fees should be scrapped.

“We want to have a proper structure which is relevant to the type of business that is using the pavements,” he said.

“If the fee is wrong why are we still being charged?”

Under council guidelines, traders must pay �151 a week for pavement pitches. But the yearly charge is capped at �3,000. �Before April, the fee was capped at �2,000 a year.

Cllr Clark said: “We did cap it at �3,000 which is a saving of �5,000 but it’s still too high and we are looking into it.

“There is nothing we can do this year but the council is looking into reviewing the whole street trading fee structure for 2012. I do think it’s still too high and I sympathise with the traders.”

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