A COUNCIL has set the cost of issuing licences for pubs, cafes and restaurants to set up tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises at twice that of its neighbouring borough.

Blackburn with Darwen will charge business owners the full £100 fee permitted by the government while Hyndburn is asking for just £50.

Nearby Burnley has fixed the cost at £25.

The three councils are taking advantage of new coronavirus legislation allowing them to issue temporary licences to food, drink and hospitality businesses allowing them to use the pavements outside their premises for ‘alfresco’ dining and drinking from this week.

The government believes this will allow those without existing permanent permissions to trade more successfully while ensuring social distancing.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said it could not afford to discount the cost despite Hyndburn and Burnley both doing so.

Cllr Paul Marrow, his Conservative group shadow, said: “This is not very good. Setting the cost of the licence at £100 is not going to help businesses that need all the help they can get.

“If Hyndburn and Burnley can charge less, why can’t Blackburn with Darwen? Allowing pubs and cafes to use the pavement will help them and help customers social distance.”

Cllr Riley said the council had already taken measures to free up pavement space for tables and chairs in Duckworth Street, Darwen and Darwen Street, Blackburn.

He said: “It costs £100 to administer these licences. With the council’s financial position and the fact it is already millions of pounds down in terms of the costs of coronavirus, it cannot afford the reduce the fee.

“Despite the local weather, we hope some establishments will continue continental-style use of the pavements beyond the summer.”

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said: “We are encouraging business owners to submit applications as soon as possible so licences can be issued and residents and visitors can start to enjoy alfresco drinking and eating.”

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, Burnley Council’s economic boss, said: “We have set the fee at £25 to help as many businesses as possible.”

Tables and chairs placed on the highway without permission can be illegal as they could amount to an obstruction or create a hazard for pedestrians, especially for blind, partially sighted and other people with disabilities.