Bid to introduce cafe culture to the Borders

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Borders towns could be in line for a a makeover, welcoming the cafe culture and cracking down on unauthorised signs and obstructions on their streets.

Keen to encourage a cafe culture on our high streets Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee agreed this week to give further thought to introducing a three-year trial permit system allowing tables and chairs outside cafes and restautants.

And it took the same approach to tightening up on unauthorised signs, banners, posters and sandwich boards. Councilloors appreciate it’s needed but want more information on how it would work.

If the new regime is introduced, food businesses wanting to have seating outside their premises would pobably have to apply for formal planning consent giving a detailed description of barriers, tables and chairs and proposed occupied space.

Permit-holders would also have to provide evidence that their public liability insurance covers external trading.

However, there was an element of caution among councillors who felt there should be more consultation with businesses before introducing the new permit system.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Donald Moffat said: “Who decides how many terms and conditions are applied, such as how many tables establishments can have and how much room they can take up?

“One size doesn’t necessarily fit all.”

Faced with three options on how to deal with unauthorised signs, councillors ruled out a complete ban on all unauthorised signs and also the status quo of a free-for-all.

Instead, they preferred the option of categorising unauthorised signs and obstructions and taking action depending on their location and type.

Again, however, they felt more research was needed by council officers before they agreed a way forward.

Certain areas are likely to be categorised as no-banner zones, such as roundabouts, key junctions, pedestrian guard rails and roads with a national speed limit. Any banner, sign or other type of advert placed in these areas will be removed immediately for safety reasons.

However, councillors felt that taking the same approach to sandwich boards on high streets as large banners on major roads needed to be looked at again.

Suggesting a return to a system of people applying to display adverts on designated lamp posts Mr Moffat said: “I think we have a balancing act here. We need for people to be able to advertise things but without it being in the way of people trying to use the pavements.”

He added: “I do think it is right that we shouldn’t allow them on roundabouts as it does take your attention away from the road.”