Permission granted for The Empress to keep seating on the Harrogate Stray
The Empress pub has been given a temporary licence to continue serving customers with tables and chairs on the Stray following a customer petition with received more than 1,000 signatures.
The petition was launched after both The Empress and The Blues Bar, owned by Sharon and Simon Colgan, were told by Harrogate Borough Council that they must remove the outside furniture from the Stray to "prevent damage" and "reduce the risk of injury should it become wet and muddy".
A statement introducing the petition reads: "Please sign a petition to keep the tables and chairs outside The Blues Bar and The Empress. After investing in tables and chairs for both areas because we were told we could use the space we received a letter advising us to remove the tables within a week with no previous warning.
"The area has allowed us to keep our patrons safe and our staff employed during the global pandemic we are currently in. Without this space we won’t be able to attract the number of customers we need to keep our staff employed.
"The council’s reasoning is they’re concerned about the damage to the grass when the weather changes. We have advised we are happy to contribute to costs to the upkeep of the grass in the small areas we use."
There have been 1,023 signatures in a week, with customers writing messages of support for the establishments.
Collette Hall·wrote: "We need to do anything we can to keep businesses going during this pandemic otherwise there won't be any businesses left," with Roz Sheldon adding: "This is a great outdoor space for families to meet safely during the pandemic and helps a local business and staff."
Following a meeting with The Empress yesterday, Thursday, Harrogate Borough Council has allowed the business to continue using the Stray - for now.
A council spokesperson said: "“Following a positive meeting with the Empress public house, we have agreed to provide a temporary licence that allows them to use an area outside to maintain social distancing.”
Sharon Colgan has thanked customers for their support and says she is delighted at the news.
She told the Harrogate Advertiser: "Our customers have been amazing and we can't believe all the support. It has been truly overwhelming - hats off to them for fighting our corner and signing the petition.
"In winter, when the weather isn't as good, I am sure we would use the space less anyway. But for now, it is safe and lovely and we are excited to be serving there."
A decision is yet to be made about outdoor seating at The Blues Bar.