Bristol Council is due to step back from levying street trading fees on businesses trading in suspended parking bays during the coronavirus outbreak. Instead of daily fees adding up to approx. £7000 per year, the council will instead request a yearly charge of just £100 for businesses that seek to take advantage of the social distancing measures imposed by the authority to trade in suspended bays.
The move follows persistent pressure from Clifton Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke, who has repeatedly lobbied the Mayor and the Council’s legal department over the legality, economic impact and fairness of the charges on local businesses trying to stay afloat during lockdown. Paula’s fellow ward Green Councillor, Jerome Thomas, added to the pressure on the council with a petition, which at time of writing had received over 1100 signatures. (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/suspend-bristol-street-trading-charges-during-covid)
Following repeated discussions with council officers Councillor O’Rourke has now been told the Council will designate the suspended parking bays as ‘pavement’ to get around its previous policy. Instead of being charged a daily rate for use of each suspended bay, Bristol’s businesses will need to apply for a simple licence, which will last until September 2021 and carry a one-off fee of £100. Once approved they will be able to trade in parking bays/pavement without further fees or charges. Until the decision is formally rolled out in a week or two, businesses will be able to continue to use the suspended bays as they already are. The new policy will affect all streets in Bristol with suspended parking bays, so bars and restaurants in other parts of Bristol (e.g. North Street in Southville) will also be able to benefit from the decision.
Responding to the changes, Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke said:
“I’m delighted that the Council have scrapped these fees – charging local businesses up to £7000 a year for trying to trade outdoors in the current climate was not sustainable, and not fair as businesses were being penalised for trying to do the right thing and stay afloat in tough circumstances.
“I know lots of my residents and the small businesses in Clifton will be really relieved at the news – this is a real lifeline for parts of the local economy. And it’s great that this new policy will apply across the whole city, so it won’t just be traders on Princess Victoria St that can benefit from it.”
“I’ve spent months going back and forth with local traders and council officers to try and find a way through, and argued my case with the Mayor at council meetings. Credit is due to the administration for listening to the points I was raising and acknowledging the needs of local businesses.”
– Image: Councillor O’Rourke with Richard Davis, chair of Clifton BID (Business Improvement District)