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Support Bread & Basil – say no to Cheshire East Council!!

August 2, 2011

Sometimes something so annoying comes up that I have to a rant about it! And something has come up. A few weeks ago my Dad (owner and manager of Congleton’s best cafe and deli, Bread and Basil) told me that Cheshire East Council had very cleverly found a way of coming up with more money – charging for setting tables and chairs outside where they have gone for years and years. I get why we need a road tax, but a pavement tax now? Are they joking?

Apparently not.

From 1 July in Cheshire (which unfortunately includes Congleton as well) if the proprietor of a cafe wants to put more than 4 chairs outside his business he has to pay for a license. This license will cost around £1,000 in its first year and over £300 per year thereafter. Does the council realise we’re in a recession? Do they have any clue as to how hard it is to keep a business going in the current climate? Taxes are increasing, rent is increasing., wages are increasing but sales are falling!

Incidentally, pubs who have boards outside, the hardware shop who put loads, and I mean loads, of boxes, mops, piles of general crap, florists who display flowers outside their shops – ON THE PAVEMENTS are not included in this alfresco license. Double standards much?

Instead of penalising small businesses by ordering them to pay more taxes (because apparently the pavements need upkeep when all these tables and chairs are on them) they should be supporting them and praising them for making it this far. I reiterate – it is not easy keep a small business afloat in this economy – we’ve seen what’s happened to large businesses such as Ethel Austin, Woolworths and more recently TJ Hughes!

International businesses such as Costa Coffee (which recently opened a branch across the road from Bread and Basil causing a decline in takings and more major competition – another stupendous decision from the council in allowing that and so putting another nail in the coffin on independent cafes in Congleton) can afford to pay this! It’s not fair that it’s the same amount for them, chains with a few shops (Coffee Bean) and stand alone businesses like B&B.

I don’t know about you but for me the charm of a town centre is in the diversity of its shops. I don’t want yet another same old, same old identikit high street!! Which is what Cheshire East seem to prefer. They recently gave permission for a Greggs to open a few doors up from Bread and Basil – taking away even more of the business for pies, sausage rolls and sandwiches. Although who buys them from chains like that I have no idea. I’d rather have artisan cakes and home made pies rather than the mass produced crap Greggs churns out.

So, a call to arms. Tomorrow there will be a sit down protest outside Bread and Basil. Not organised by my Dad I hasten to add – but by concerned citizens and members of Congleton Council (who are overruled by Cheshire East) who want this tax on pavements alfresco license revoking. Bring a chair, join a hefty turn out (in the glorious weather I hasten to add) and show your support. There will be free top ups on drinks!!! I love sitting outsife having a brew and some cake. I’ll be gutted if we can’t do it anymore.

For more info have a look at this week’s Congleton Chronicle.

I’d love to hear any comments on this – please let me know what you think or if I being too harsh!

*These opinions are mine and mine alone – not those of Bread and Basil’s or any of the people organising the protest. If you have an issue with what I’ve said – email me*

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2011 5:17 am

    Hi, I saw your blog today. I really enjoyed reading the whole article. I found it very informative. Thanks for writing this article. I have to book marked this blog site, so I can share it with friends, I’m sure they will be going to love this stuff. It was kudos to you in sharing this blog with us. Keep it up.

    • notsuchayummymummy permalink*
      October 11, 2011 8:03 am

      Thanks so much! I think it’s ridiculous what the council are doing. They seem to have gone quiet on us at the moment though so fingers crossed it stays that way!

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