South Tyneside hospitality businesses call for better support from council as they battle back from lockdown
Hospitality businesses looking forward to welcoming diners and drinkers have called on South Tyneside’s leaders to better work with them as restrictions lift.
From Monday, April 12, hospitality venues can serve outside, before indoor service can potentially be resumed on May 17.
But some venues say they remain in the dark on rules, with conflicting advice given during the last easing.
The businesses, supported by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, say they have been frustrated at the process to apply for outdoor seating.
While Newcastle City Council has fast tracked applications, South Tyneside businesses say they have been told they may wait until July for a response.
Ms Lewell-Buck said: “What we are trying to do is push the council to do everything needed with public health before the hospitality businesses open next week.
"They need absolutely crystal clear guidelines now, explaining what is expected of them.”
On the issue of outdoor seating areas, she said: "They’ve made it happen in Newcastle and elsewhere and we need to give our local economy a kick start.”
Edd Hilton, owner of the Sand Dancer, says he has invested £450,000 in outdoor improvements in the last three years.
He said the council told him he can no longer use land next to the pub, which it maintained for years, when he and neighbouring venues would benefit most.
He added: "There aren’t any guidelines published about what we can and cannot do when we open and we’ve not had anything from the council, environmental health, licensing, at all about what we are going to be doing.”
Stephen Sullivan, of Ziggy’s in Prince Georg Square, set up Hospitality South Tyneside to represent venues, and is waiting until the next stage of easing to relaunch.
He said: “What we are looking for is a clear channel of communication with all the authorities and support from the council.”
In response, the council said it is supporting businesses, with four business and community support officers working with the environmental team to provide advice.