Many hospitality businesses are fearing for their futures after three years of interrupted trade, forced closures, a staff exodus and rising costs.
One thing they all seem to agree on is that additional outdoor seating was hugely beneficial for bringing in trade during the pandemic, and they’d like it back A.S.A.P.
Unfortunately, the temporary Covid rules that allowed for easy street closures and licenses have now expired – leaving some (but not all) struggling businesses at the mercy of the long-winded and expensive Highways application system.
So now, as summer approaches and some Northern Quarter venues are retaining their pavement seating by other means, Manchester businesses are making a concerted push to create change around the rules to level the playing field.
In a bid to support his own business and those of friends and neighbours nearby, Andy Young, the owner of the Northern Quarter dessert bar Black Milk Cereal, has launched a petition to bring back rules introduced during Covid that allow extra outdoor seating for hospitality – and hopes to have it in place by this summer.
Calling for these rules to be made permanent, he told The Manc that many of his neighbours are still struggling to recover, but that such a change would bring a huge boost in revenue and help people pay off Government loans.
At a count, he pointed out a number of streets that have been left behind this summer – including Ancoats’ Blossom Street, Houldsworth Street, Peter Street and Tarriff Street – as well as making reference to how the street closures benefitted those in Manchester’s Gay Village.
The petition, which went live on Thursday night, explains that hospitality businesses are still ‘hugely affected’ by the lasting impact of COVID.
It continues: “This is a revenue-neutral way to help them recover fiscally and pay off Government loans like Bounce Back, CIBLS, and Recover Loans.
“It also has a significant impact on local communities, with friends, families and loved ones able to enjoy food and drink outside in the sun.”
Currently, businesses need to apply – at a cost – for a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) or Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO), in order to trade on the street/road.
This process (unlike the temporary scheme legislation now revoked by Parliament) also requires a full consultation and planning consent, which can take a significant amount of time. Time that many feel they don’t have.
Black Milk is not the only business to have been making noise about the need for the extension of Covid outdoor seating rules this summer.
Nearby bar Alvarium’s owners made headlines just last week after sharing a heartfelt plea, in which they warned ‘the consequences could be detrimental’ if they are not granted a road closure this summer.
Speaking to The Manc about the need for more outdoor seating, Alvarium owner Braddan Quayle said: “For me, it’s an absolute no-brainer.
“It saved a lot of businesses and more importantly a lot of jobs over the pandemic and as we discussed we’re still suffering from a hangover which has been said by people like Sacha Lord could take up to five years so why are we not being given the tools to prosper?
“We would have to pay for tables and chairs licenses so the local council would recoup some of the money back that they’ve had to spend, so like I say it’s a no brainer and it’s frustrating that nothing is being done about it and shunting the blame onto Westminster is not an answer and no, unfortunately, shouldn’t be an answer either.”
The petition reads in full: “Due to Covid the Government relaxed rules for restaurants, cafes and bars to get licences for outdoor seating, and also rules for local authorities to make Traffic Orders, including closing roads to enable outdoor hospitality. We want these changes made permanent, to support hospitality businesses.
“Provisions relating to outdoor table & chairs licences expire later this year, and relaxed rules for making Traffic Orders to put seating on roads have already fallen. We want both made permanent in time for this summer.
“Hospitality businesses are still hugely affected by the lasting impact of COVID.
“This is a revenue neutral way to help them recover fiscally and pay off Government loans like Bounce Back, CIBLS, and Recover Loans.
“It also has a significant impact on local communities, with friends, families and loved ones able to enjoy food and drink outside in the sun.
“Summer is coming; please act urgently to save it for small businesses. Sign this petition.”
If you want to sign the petition, you can do so here. If it reaches 10,000 signatures it will be responded to by Parliament and if it reaches 100,000 it will be considered for debate.
Feature image – Black Milk / Alvarium
A new little IKEA has just opened inside a Greater Manchester shopping centre
A brand new little IKEA has just opened its doors inside a popular Greater Manchester shopping centre this week.
Of course, the Swedish furniture giant has a home in our region already, with a popular site in Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside, as well as another in neighbouring Warrington just over the border into Cheshire – but this new Greater Manchester hub is on a much smaller scale than the IKEA superstores we’re used to.
This is what the retailer is calling a ‘Plan & Order Point’.
Having opened doors in the Merseyway Shopping Centre in Stockport, the new IKEA Plan & Order Point is a smaller store dedicated to kitchen and bedroom planning, where customers can pop in for home furnishing advice and expertise to help design their ideal space at an affordable price.
IKEA says the new Stockport hub is all part of its “ongoing transformation to become more accessible and sustainable” for shoppers in the North West.
Inside the 71 sqm / 764 sqft store, you’ll find a selection of different kitchens to browse, from a complete room with a combination of different units and appliances, including oven and hob, all for under £1,200, to a kitchen with fronts featuring a foil made of recycled bottles.
On top of this, all kitchen fronts, worktops, and a variety of appliances from the wider range will also be showcased inside the store.
When it comes to bedroom planning and design, there’s also a space dedicated to the PAX wardrobe system inside the store – with doors, interior organisers, and knobs and handles to help customers build their dream storage solution.
You can book an appointment, free of charge, inside the new Stockport store to start your design journey with one of IKEA’s planning specialists, or use the in-store self-service tools to design your own solution.
Staff will also be on hand to help customers order products from the full IKEA range – which can be delivered direct to your door, or to the nearest collection point.
“Our investment in the North West is part of our long-term plan to transform our retail business, continuing to make it easier for people to enjoy what IKEA offers using a variety of convenient ways,” explained Michael Parker, Area Manager at IKEA UK.
“The North West is a key region for us, being home to over seven million people, and also being the place that IKEA first opened a UK store, 35 years ago in Warrington.
“This new Plan and Order Point will allow customers to get inspiration and expert advice in convenient locations closer to where they live.
“Together with our existing stores in Ashton-under-Lyne and Warrington, remote planning and different delivery and collection services, we’re enabling an IKEA that’s there for our customers, however they want to meet us.”
King Charles III acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, and on the day of his Coronation, will be 74 years old – making him the oldest person to be crowned monarch in British history.
The King will be coronated alongside his wife and the Queen Consort, Camilla, in a religious ceremony held at Westminster Abbey in London – which is the same place his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II‘s Coronation was held in 1953, as was her State Funeral in September of last year.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and is expected to be a more “simmered down” event in comparison to that of the late Queen’s Coronation.
Buckingham Palace said the Coronation will “reflect the monarch’s role today” and will “look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry” – with more details about the ceremony and celebrations on a national scale expected to be announced “in due course”.
But, on a more personal scale locally, Manchester City Council has just announced that residents in the borough can apply to close their road off so they can throw a street party.
The Council says it want residents from all over the city to “dust off the bunting and join their neighbours to celebrate the historic weekend” by hosting a traditional street party, and for those wishing to do so, if you make sure to submit an application by a certain deadline, then the road closure fee will be waived.
On top of this, Oldham Council has also announced that it applications are open for residents to apply for £100 grants to be put towards community street parties.
100 grants are available being awarded on a first come, first served basis.
Other Greater Manchester boroughs are also expected to announce celebration plans in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.