Outdoor dining fees 'inequity'

BUSINESS owners in the Maclean CBD area will be forced to pay $15 per square metre more for outdoor dinning than their Grafton competitors.

The ‘inequity’ has River Street traders baffled and the steep increase will see many lower river businesses oppose Clarence Valley Council’s draft policy.

Skye Coffee Lounge owner Laurie Fitzpatrick was left confused after council indicated the fees were based on passing traffic, yet outlined that Maclean rates would be higher than Grafton. In a submission to council, Mr Fitzpatrick asked “if the square metreage is to be used, can you explain why we should be happy to pay $35 per square metre while traders in the main street of Grafton only have to pay $20?”.

“Surely this is based on passing traffic, as evidenced by your grab for cash from Yamba, and indicates that Maclean is busier than Grafton.”

For Maclean Chamber of Commerce president Bob Little, the inequality between the centres is only one of the draft’s flaws.

“We don’t have a problem with the charge being levied on extra area that the business takes up but it is the calculation of that that is the problem,” he said.

Council’s environment and open spaces planner, Peter Birch, said the proposed charges were calculated on the percentage of average land value for each locality.

He said the fee structure for Maclean would be comparatively similar to the existing table and chair pricing structure the CBD operates under.



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