Alfastco

TWO years ago any restaurateur wanting to go alfresco on Vincent’s footpaths had to negotiate a red tape obstacle course and pay for the pleasure.

The council was raking in $150,000 a year in fees, but the cost and approval process was deterring some businesses from bothering.

As of this week the council’s letting restaurant owners apply for an alfresco license online, reducing the approval time from about 10 days to ten minutes.

Vincent mayor Emma Cole says the city’s been focusing on cutting red tape for businesses.

“In 2016 we made alfresco permits free and now we’re launching a quick and simple online system that provides businesses with approval in minutes,” she says.

“To our knowledge, no other local government in WA has done this and we can’t wait to see the positive impact this will have on our local economy and in making Vincent an even more dynamic place to visit and shop.”

All the businesses need is current liability insurance, and to make sure they leave enough clear space for pedestrians to walk past.

• Fields of Vincent owner Mathew Rowe and Vincent mayor Emma Cole celebrate the speeding up of alfresco applications. Photo by Steve Grant

Painless

Mathew Rowe, co-owner of new cafe Fields of Vincent at 135 Scarborough Beach Road, gave the new system a whirl this week.

“It was a seamless process,” he said, noting it took under 10 minutes.

“I thought the whole system was really good.”

He says with a new business a yearly fee can be a pain, so was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t have to pay a fee, and that his approval arrived in his inbox minutes after applying.

The system’s live now at http://www.vincent.wa.gov.au/online-permits

Making administration easier for businesses has been a trend in the past couple of years as local governments try to shed their overly-bureaucratic image: Bayswater council also used to charge for alfresco ($26.50 for every chair per year) and likewise scrapped it in 2016.

by DAVID BELL

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