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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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Three men sought by police after Crawley town centre shop robbed

Police are investigating an aggravated burglary at a phone shop in Crawley.

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Officers were called to the 3 store, The Martletts, at 12.09am on Thursday, 21 November after a burglary alarm was activated.

Police arrived at the scene three minutes later, to find the glass window at the front of the store smashed and a number of iPhones, Samsung phones and Huawei phones stolen.

Three men were seen on CCTV to approach the store with a crowbar, a large wooden construction mallet and a large builder’s sack.

They were dressed in dark clothing and had face coverings on. It is thought they approached the store via a footpath from the direction of Memorial Gardens, and fled the scene in a black Audi A4.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have any further information is asked to report online or call 101 quoting serial 9 of 22/11.

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