RIGHT now any business owner wanting to liven up their footpath with a pot plant and a bench within the City of Vincent must apply for a licence and pay $73 a year.
Likewise, setting up an outdoor eating area comes with a stack of paperwork and fees.
Mayor John Carey wants that to change: he says it should be easier for traders to liven up the place without jumping through hoops: “We want to make it easier for small independent businesses to contribute to the great feel they give to our streets, and one of the ways is cutting red tape for alfresco and display seating,” he says. “We have a ridiculous situation at the moment, where if a business wants to beautify a footpath and put a bench out with some pot plants, then they’d have to pay $73 ever year, and we’d send out rangers to look at where they’re putting it.
“This is a waste of resources, a waste of time, and it’s red tape.
“It’s not just about cafes, but plants and seating outside other business. I’m sure people have gone to Paris, and any kind of shop has seats outside for people to sit around and watch the world go by.”
The council collects a tidy $130,000 a year from such fees, but it all goes back into the cost of policing compliance.
Nino La Verghetta runs Pappagallo cafe pizzeria on Oxford Street. He had to wait months to get cafe blinds up.
“There’s so many rules,” he says, and the problem is “not just the money, but the time”.
He reckons slashing the rules is “fantastic I think! That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Where we’re coming from in Italy, it’s all about that, because they have a small [space inside the shop], especially with high rents, it’s easy for us to do business on the footpath.” The law will take at least a year to come into force.
by DAVID BELL