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LOCKDOWN LIFTED: Earl Street trader unhappy at council pavement 'red tape'

Thursday 15th April 2021

A TOWN centre trader has complained he was prevented from serving customers outside when lockdown was eased on Monday because of council red tape.
Richard Carrera, the owner of the Green Room in Earl Street, says he lost £2,000 and had to stand down six staff members after a Maidstone Borough Council official claimed he did not have pavement licence to trade.
He says the MBC officer then said a fresh application might take 10 days to process, costing him many thousands in further lost revenues.
Mr Carrera claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this year indicated businesses would not have to get such permissions.
He said: "This is crazy. Earl Street is the heart of the twilight and night-time economy and will help to get the town going again. I've been told a new application, which submitted on the spot, might take 10 days to process.
"I understand traders in Medway do not have this problem. The local council took the Prime Minister at his word and let people get on with running their businesses."

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Liberal Democrat borough councillor David Naghi, a self-employed builder, said: "We have to get businesses back to work. We need to help these guys not hinder them by putting great big obstacles in their way."
An MBC spokesman said: "Maidstone Borough Council contacted the registered owner of the Green Room, Earl Street on 23 December 2020 to inform them (sic) that as the area outside the premises falls under the KCC Highways Business and Planning Bill, a Pavement Licence would have to be applied for which if accepted, would allow the placement of tables and chairs outside the front of the building. The Council has not yet received a valid application for the relevant Licence. 
"However, once a valid application for a Pavement Licence has been received MBC will endeavour to process  and respond to the applicant as soon as possible."
The Green Room is a new business set up in the old Pizza Express building in Earl Street, which is also home to the Hazlitt Theatre. The Hazlitt was under threat of being "mothballed" by the borough council in an effort of save money until a massive Downs Mail-led public revolt forced a U-turn.

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