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‘Put pub and restaurant seating in Upper Street’s parking bays’

Islington businesses come up with radical proposal in bid to survive the coronavirus crisis

22 May, 2020

Angel.London chairwoman Christine Lovett

PUBS and restaurants in Islington are calling on the government and council to allow them to take over car parking bays and pavement areas to provide space for outdoor service.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is being lobbied to “issue a directive to local authorities” to allow the use of chairs and tables outside, with bars ­facing one of the longest waits to reopen from the coronavirus lockdown.

Alan Lorrimer, the founder of The Piano Works in Farringdon, wrote to him warning that three-quarters of bars and restaurant operators in the UK do not think their business could “survive” with social-distancing measures in place.

“We would ask that the government issue a directive to local authorities that will permit them to allow existing hospitality businesses to designate outdoor space for the placing of tables and chairs outside of their premises to permit the service of food and drinks,” he said.

“We propose no fees to be charged and ­outside liquor licensing and selected highway zoning regulations be suspended until ­September.”

Alexander Jan of the Midtown Business Improvement District

His appeal for changes came as business group Angel.London presented a “public access report” to ­Islington Council with ideas on how vacant parking spaces could be used by pubs.

Chairwoman Christine Lovett said: “We are also looking at exploring how pubs and restaurants could use parts of Upper Street parking bays for seating. We have written a document on that. Most of the Angel BID is on the TfL Red Route, so any public space that we could use would be extremely welcome.”

Alexander Jan, chairman of the Midtown Business Improvement District (BID), which covers Clerkenwell and Farringdon, suggested that the hospitality ­sector could be supported if certain streets were closed to allow more pedestrian movement and the council provided more flexibility on opening hours and delivery times.

Mr Jan, who also works as the chief economist for the engineering giant Arup, added: “The restaurant, hotel and bar trade have been hit very heavily. It may well be that those sectors will need special help because of the impact of social distancing.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “The pandemic is having a huge impact on Islington businesses and we’re working hard to support them, including urging government to extend their support schemes as too many of our smaller local companies are falling through the cracks. We will continue to help businesses and look at different ways we can support them.”

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