James Hodgson, of Hollyz Cafe, talks about council’s new dining policy.
James Hodgson, of Hollyz Cafe, talks about council’s new dining policy.

Dining on outer in draft policy

‘UN-AUSTRALIAN’.

That’s what small businesses in Grafton are labelling Clarence Valley Council’s draft outdoor dining policy.

Hollyz employee James Hodgson said the Prince Street cafe could be adversely affected by the policy, which would see businesses charged an annual rate of $20 per square metre for footpath dining space.

“If it was for the greater good of the community, I’d be all for it,” Mr Hodgson said. “But where’s the greater good? It’s hitting small businesses – it’s absolutely unnecessary.”

Mr Hodgson said council’s decision to make the policy was based on other local councils, and took no account of the region’s ‘seasonal’ nature.

“Just because other councils have this sort of policy, it doesn’t mean it’s good for Grafton or Yamba – we’re so seasonal,” he said. “We don’t get the flow of Bondi or Coffs Harbour.

“It’s un-Australian. Why would you hit the little guys with this sort of stuff?”

Meanwhile, Roches Family Hotel on Victoria Street made a submission to council regarding the policy’s stipulation that smoking on the footpath would be banned.

Manager Richard Brien said his submission made the case for having half the footpath space designated for smokers, instead of eradicating it entirely.

“We were in support of 50-50,” Mr Brien said. “We’re not a high pedestrian traffic area.”

Mr Brien said the policy would drive the hotel’s outdoor smokers inside to the undercover beer garden.

“I feel it’s going to bring more smokers into the beer garden, where we have kids and families,” Mr Brien said.

“We’ll have to reconfigure it if it goes ahead.”

Council’s environment and open spaces planner Peter Birch said council developed the draft policy because there were ‘no guidelines’ on outdoor dining in place.

“We wanted to try to deal with emerging requests from new outdoor dining operators,” Mr Birch said.

“It became an issue how we were going to assess that.”

Mr Birch said the police had also raised concerns with council regarding hotels serving alcohol on footpaths in alcohol-free zones.

The policy would allow hotels to continue this practice, if they assigned a designated area for the outdoor alcohol consumption.

‘All submissions’ regarding the policy would be taken into consideration.

Submissions close on Monday.



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