AL fresco bid supported

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Councillors have voiced concerns over outdoor seating at a town centre pub, writes Elliot Pinkham.

But Sudbury Town Council supported the plans to keep a number of tables and chairs outside the Grover & Allen pub in North Street, Sudbury.

The eating and drinking area has been in place for two months, with the pub re-applying for a six-month trial period.

During the council’s planning and development committee meeting on Monday, a number of councillors were unhappy with the effect the addition would have on North Street.

Councillor Simon Clarke said: “Wetherspoon’s, by their nature, attract a certain clientèle and I think you will get people sat out the front, hurling abuse at passers-by.

“I walk past there every day and I don’t think it would add anything. My concern is that it would affect tourism in the town.”

Councillor John Sayers said he had contacted Babergh District Council over complaints that the space left on the pavement alongside the seating area was insufficient for wheelchair users and pedestrians.

The application was supported by other members, who said the current trial scheme had improved North Street.

Vice-chairman Jan Osborne said: “Similar ideas work really well in Bury St Edmunds, and I think it would add to the vitality of the town.”

Kris McCarthy, shift manager at the pub, said: “We have a good system in place where a member of staff goes to check the area on the hour, every hour for cleanliness and also to see what sort of people are hanging around outside.

“We’ve also made the front of the pub a non-smoking area, so it should be a much more pleasant experience for passers-by.”

Pub regular Stuart Harwood, 24, said: “I don’t think bad behaviour is a problem really. If it is packed inside the seats in the beer garden get taken up, and it is nice to sit outside.

“If someone comes to cause trouble then the police get called straight away, and there are police walking about all the time anyway.”

The application was supported by the town council with recommendations that a 7pm time restriction is imposed on people using the area, and that the seating area does not extend past the entrance doors towards Suffolk Road.

The application will now go before Babergh District Council.