Huge rise in cost of pavement permits in Shropshire
Shops and cafes which use part of the pavement outside their premises are facing a massive jump in the cost of a permit from Shropshire Council.
The unitary authority has increased the annual cost of a pavement permit from £50 to £311.
New applications are even more expensive at £413.
One shop owner in Oswestry says if the cost is not overturned she will simply stop selling the plants that she keeps outside.
Louise Idoux runs the Oswestry Herbarium on Albion Hill in the town.
She said: "I have had the shop for 15 years and the pavement permit allows me to put the specialist herbs that I sell on special staging outside. It has always cost me £50 a year."
WATCH: Business owner on permit cost hike
She said she was outraged by the huge increase in the cost of the licence.
"I was filling in the renewal form and it wasn't until I came to the end that I saw the new cost. My jaw fell to the floor," she added.
The qualified herbalist practitioner said the plants she sold were the more unusual herbs used in the treatments. She also sells health foods at the store.
She said: "I only make between 20-50p on the plants that I sell and I have worked out I would have to sell about 2,000 a year to cover the cost of the licence.
"It is due for renewal on June 14 and, if this cost stands then I simply wont be able to sell them in future."
She said the decision would have a knock-on effect on her customers and on those who supply her plants.
Oswestry town councillor, Mike Coppock, said he would take up the matter on behalf of those who have pavement permits.
He said: "At a time when local independent shops are struggling and the Government is looking for ways to help, Shropshire Council is slapping a big cost on businesses if they have an A-board, tables and chairs, fruit and veg or just some plants outside like the Herbarium does.
"Such pavement displays brighten up the town centre."
Shropshire Council's website says that pavement permits are for businesses that wish to expand the space they have by using part of the pavement.
It says: "The permit enables non permanent structures like shelving and storage to display goods for retail premises and tables and chairs for cafes and bars to be placed on the pavement. There is no charge for permits for non-profit making organisations such as charity shops or voluntary groups."
Pavement permits rise anger
The decision to make shops and cafes pay more than six times the current cost of a pavement permit has been described as “disappointing” by a business leader.
Shropshire Council has increased the cost of permits from £50 to £311, with new applications costing a cool £413.
The price hike has left some businesses reeling, with a plant shop owner saying she will have to stop selling plants outside.
There are concerns that the county’s high streets could lose out on atmosphere and colour, as well as hurting businesses financially.
Business leaders look set to challenge the decision.
Mark Derham, chairman of Oswestry Chamber of Commerce, will be penning a letter to the council to make the feeling of businesses known.
He said: “It is a disappointing turn of events, especially at a time when the high street is struggling. We will be writing to the council on behalf of members and non-members to express our concerns.
"Businesses feel they will be hurt by the increase, especially as the weather improves and footfall increases in shopping areas."
Mr Derham, who runs Bridge Coffee, an Oswestry-based vending company, believes it is bad news regardless of the time of year.
He said: “It is disappointing at any time of year. It’s a very large increase.”
Oswestry town councillor Mike Coppock said he will also take up the matter on behalf of those with permits after Louise Idoux, owner of plant shop Oswestry Herbarium on Albion Hill, brought the increase to his attention.
Councillor Coppock believes the high street would miss such pavement displays, and believes they add a much needed touch of colour to the shopping experience.