A BAR and restaurant has become the first business in Colchester to be granted temporary permission to serve punters on the pavement.

Three Wise Monkeys, in High Street, will bring in outdoor seating after taking advantage of new regulations put forward to help businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colchester Council is welcoming applications from businesses which wish to serve food and drink on the pavement.

In July, the Government passed the the Business and Planning Bill 2020, which allows restaurants and bars to apply for a temporary pavement permit.

The council, which enforces a public spaces protection order banning businesses from putting up A-boards, says it has suspended its usual arrangements for the licensing of tables and chairs.

The temporary permits are currently permitted until September 2021.

Any businesses with existing permits due to expire before September 2021 are eligible to apply under this new scheme, once their current permit expires.

Mike Lilley, Colchester Council’s public safety boss, said: “With the easing of lockdown restrictions and with the warm weather we’re currently experiencing, many people are keen to enjoy food and drink outdoors.

“This temporary permit legislation means businesses without little or no outdoor space can now apply to provide this on the public highway, where possible.

“I’d also like to add thank the council’s licensing team, who have done a fantastic job in getting this new temporary process set up so quickly. As always, they will work with the relevant responsible authorities to ensure site-specific conditions are met and that they operate in a way that’s safe for everyone.”

Paul Tonkinson, of Pasini Leisure, which runs Three Wise Monkeys, said: “We are delighted the pavement permit has been issued and thank the team at the council for their support and vision.

“Outdoor seating will allow more customers to enjoy Three Wise Monkeys, while maintaining a safe social distance.”

But Colchester councillor Gerard Oxford, who was supportive of the move to ban A-boards, felt disabled and visually impaired visitors to the town centre may lose out.

“I have said it before in regard to businesses which already have tables and chairs out - it takes up so much of the pavement.

“The whole idea at the moment is create more space for pedestrians in Colchester. It is creating obstacles and reducing space which is desperately needed.

“The council is making ad hoc changes quickly without thinking about the ramifications.”