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“Do they want small businesses in Crawley or not?” Outcry as outdoor seating license pursued by Sussex Council

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In yet another blow to local businesses an outdoor seating tax that has not been pursued by the County Council for many years according to numerous businesses is now being actively sought.

Businesses that offer outdoor seating for their customers must pay £520 a year after they have had planning permission granted to them.

Whilst the tax has always existed the last time it was enforced around Crawley appears to be up to seven years ago.

But what makes the issue even harder for small businesses to swallow, is that the fee is exactly the same irrelevant of the number of tables and chairs outside an establishment.

One cafe owner who asked to remain anonymous said:

“A week doesn’t appear to go by without another charge coming our way. Ok, so we have always had to pay a fee, fine, but we only have two tables with chairs here so why are we having to pay the same as one of the big coffee places in town with fifity chairs and tables? Do they want small businesses in this town or not? “

Sussex Council have said they will look at possibly changing the fee so it reflects the size of the business with respect to how many chairs and tables are used…but not till next year.

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said:

“It has been a legal requirement for businesses to have a licence when putting tables and chairs on the pavement for many years. A licence is required for the public liability of any business in the event of an accident and the license allows the county council to make sure tables and chairs do not pose a risk to people using the pavement. Feedback from groups representing people with limited sight or mobility have raised the latter as a particular issue.

“Across the country there are lots of examples of different charging mechanisms for businesses to put furniture on streets with many authorities choosing to apply a flat fee.

“However, we will be reviewing our charging mechanism for next year in the Autumn and at that point we will consider taking into account the number of tables and chairs on the pavement outside each premises.

“There are a number of businesses that already pay for a licence and it is therefore necessary that we take a fair and consistent approach across the county.”

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Update on man found unconscious in Memorial Gardens, Crawley

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Police have released an update after a man was found unconscious in Memorial Gardens, Crawley on Wednesday 9th Oct.

A man found slumped face down amd unconscious near a bench on the north side of Memorial Gardens, Crawley, at 8.21am on Wednesday (9 October) had sustained a head injury, the cause of which is being investigated by police.

Officers are conducting enquiries to establish if another person was involved and are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the man earlier that morning or who noticed anything suspicious.

The man, aged 47 and of no fixed address, was flown by air ambulance to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, suffering from a life-threatening condition.

He is currently in intensive care.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Sussex Police online or phone 101, quoting serial 274 of 09/10.

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