District council defends charges for Spoken and Grapevine over use of The Strand for outdoor seating

A decision to charge two Exmouth pubs a combined £1,000 for using The Strand for outdoor seating without permission has been defended by the district council.

The Grapevine and Spoken were both charged £500 for putting tables and chairs in The Strand on the weekend between Friday, July 10 and Sunday, July 12.

East Devon District Council (EDDC), which owns the land, said neither business had completed a temporary event notice (TEN) application in time.

Both George Nightingale of Spoken and Oliver Bainbridge of The Grapevine took to social media to say they were told they had permission until it was rejected at the ‘11th hour’ due to concerns raised by police.

Both landlords called for people to write to the chairman of EDDC Mark Williams to lobby for the charge to be rescinded and for them to be allowed to use The Strand.

EDDC said they were hoping to work with both businesses to grant permission and that the £500 covers the charge for using The Strand and legal fees.

In a video posted on social media, Mr Nightingale said: “The hoops and hurdles put in our way to do things for the town are absurd.

“The Strand should be being used by as many businesses as possible, including The Grapevine, and I encourage its use even if its detrimental to Spoken in the short term because it’s for the betterment of the town and would make us all worker harder.”

An EDDC spokesman said: “A fully completed application did not reach the council until Friday, July 10, and due to concerns raised by the police there was insufficient time to approve their application.

“The concerns raised were not intended to block use altogether, and we had every intention of working through the concerns to support the two businesses.

“It was the action of the two businesses’ in using the space without permission which has caused an issue.

“Whilst we want to support business in this difficult time, uses must still be authorised.

“This all could have been avoided if the two businesses had worked with us in good time and through the proper processes to allow use of the Strand space.”