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Equality and diversity

Equality screening outcome report: Temporary licensing scheme for pavement cafés in Belfast

Published in November 2021


Contents

Overview of the screening template
Section A Details about the policy or decision to be screened
1. Title or policy or decision to be screened
2. Brief description of policy or decision to be screened
3. Aims and objectives of policy or decision to be screened
4. Who will the policy or decision impact?
5. Are there linkages to other agencies or departments?
Section B Information on the consultation process
6. Outline consultation process planned or achieved
7. Available evidence
8. What is the likely impact on equality of opportunity for those affected by this policy, for each of the Section 75 equality categories?
9. Are there opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity for people in Section 75 equality categories?
10. To what extent is the policy likely to impact good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?
11. Are there opportunities to better promote good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?
Section C Consideration of Disability Duties
12. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity for the council to better promote positive attitudes towards disabled people?
13.  Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity to actively increase the participation by disabled people in public life?
14.  Provide details of data on the impact of the policy with multiple identities
15. Monitoring arrangements
Section D
Formal record of screening decision
Screening assessment completed
Screening decision approved
Review of screening decision
Footnotes


Overview of screening template

The council has a statutory duty to screen. This includes our strategies, plans, policies, legislative developments; and new ways of working such as the introduction, change or end of an existing service, grant funding arrangement or facility. This screening template is designed to help departments consider the likely equality impacts of their proposed decisions on different groups of customers, service users, staff and visitors.    

Before carrying out an equality screening exercise it is important that you have received the necessary training first. To find out about the training needed or any other queries on screening, contact the Equality and Diversity Officer Lorraine Dennis on extension 6027 or or Lisa McKee on extension 6310 by email equality@belfastcity.gov.uk

The accompanying screening guidance note provides straightforward advice on how to carry out equality screening exercises. Detailed information about the Section 75 equality duties and what they mean in practice is available on the Equality Commission’s website.[1]

The screening template has four sections to complete. These are:

  • Section A  provides details about the policy or decision that is being screened
  • Section B gives information on the consultation process, supporting evidence gathered and has four key questions outlining the likely impacts on all equality groups
  • Section C has four key questions in relation to obligations under the Disability Discrimination Order  
  • Section D is the formal record of the screening decision

Section A

Details about the policy or decision to be screened

1. Title of policy or decision to be screened

A temporary licensing scheme for pavement cafés in Belfast and associated guidance for applicants during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Scheme extended until September 2022)

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges with disruption to society likely to last for some time. Pro-active resilience and creativity have aided in trying to get back to normal as the impact of the pandemic is decreasing. The council wants to continue assisting the hospitality sector as effectively and safely as possible by extending the temporary licence period until 30 September 2022. Under the provisions of the Licensing of Pavement Cafés Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, the council may grant Pavement Café licences on such terms and conditions and subject to such restrictions as may be reasonably specified in the licence.

2. Brief description of policy or decision to be screened

(Explain is this a new, revised or existing policy?  Are there financial, legislative or procurement implications?)

This is a review of an existing policy – we had previously introduced a temporary process for pavement café licence applications, with no associated fee, to help businesses recover during COVID-19. A pavement café licence authorises a person who carries out a business involving the supply of food or drink (in or from premises) to place furniture (tables, chairs) in a public area for use by customers.

Council members subsequently agreed to extend this temporary licence process for a further year until 30 September 2022. If businesses already had been issued with a pavement café licence under this temporary scheme, they will receive a new licence from us which will be valid until 30 September 2022. This will be subject to review to determine how the council will license pavement cafés after September 2022, at which time a further extension may be granted and consideration will be given to adopting permanent licensing arrangements and associated fees.  Any change to how the council will license pavement cafés will be subject to further equality screening.

3. Aims and objectives of the policy or decision to be screened
(What is the policy trying to achieve?)

The objectives are:

  • To extend the scheme for the temporary licensing of pavement cafés within Belfast, to be consistent in approach, in the good practice guidance used and in fees charged (when appropriate), with the rest of Northern Ireland;
  • To continue to facilitate the controlled expansion of suitable premises such as cafes, restaurants and pubs, providing small businesses with an opportunity to boost their income at a time of economic crisis, in support of a vibrant daytime and evening economy and for the general wellbeing of the community;
  •  To ensure Belfast has well-regulated pavement cafés, having a positive effect on urban environments, enhancing the attractiveness of local areas and contributing to an excellent visitor experience;
  • While the provision of pavement cafés is encouraged it is important that they are properly situated and managed. There is scope to ensure they enhance the locality in which they are to be situated and not create undue noise or other nuisance to residents or neighbouring businesses; and
  • A key consideration prior to licensing will be that the pavement café does not obstruct the footpath or footway and does not present a hazard for pedestrians, particularly people with a physical or mobility disability, visual sight loss or who are blind.

4. Who will the policy or decision impact?

Consider the internal and external impacts (both actual or potential) and explain.

People Actual or potential impact
Members Yes
This project continues to receive political oversight and endorsement of measures proposed by senior officers, with reports provided to the SP&R Committee.  
Staff Yes
There is some impact on staff as Belfast City Council is required to administer and enforce the legislation through the licensing scheme with an application procedure. This function sits within the existing Building Control Service’s Licensing Team.
Service users Yes
There will be an impact on some existing licensing applicants as for businesses wanting to operate a pavement café, there will be additional regulation to adhere to with an application and associated fee required (when advised). Previous consultation with the hospitality sector suggests that these small businesses see it as an opportunity to boost their income.
Other public sector organisations Yes
It is generally only pavement cafés located on public land such as footpaths that will be licensed, impact limited, only those groups or organisations adjacent to or intending to operate their own pavement cafés. There may be instances whereby Department for Communities (DfC) and the council may enter into agreements with businesses to use their land to enable a licence to be issued for cafés in Belfast. As part of the licensing process, councils are required to consult with DfI Roads, and where the premises are licensed for sale of alcohol, with the PSNI.
Voluntary, community groups and trade unions Yes
It is generally only pavement cafés located on public land such as footpaths that will be licensed and only those groups or organisations adjacent to or intending to operate their own pavement cafés on public land will need to apply. In a future permanent process, the level of fees may pose a barrier to not-for-profit groups wishing to operate a pavement café. There are no associated fees during the period of the temporary scheme. Some voluntary or community groups may be impacted in increased work engaging in the pavement café licensing process, for example making an objection as part of advocating for those they work with or support in the community (residents, people with disabilities).
Others, please specify
 
Yes

Pedestrians, particularly disabled people, and in particular people with restricted mobility or people with sight loss or who are blind.  Other pedestrians including older people and people with buggies may be impacted by restriction of footpath space and new hazards.

There will be impacts on pedestrians where pavement cafés are located and on the customers of the businesses themselves and of nearby businesses. 

However, it is considered that there can and has been a beneficial outcome as street furniture, space and safety standards  are controlled.  For example, pavement cafés must be contained within a screened area to remove the risk of walking into loose tables and chairs, and the obstruction of footpaths may reduce as the enclosure is assessed with the aim of maintaining pedestrian flow.  Access for disabled people and people with buggies and keeping clear access to the entrances to business premises and to road crossings is considered within the licensing scheme’s best practice guidance and is considered before a licence is granted.

It is recognised that new pavement cafés appearing in areas where pedestrians, particularly those with sight loss and who are blind, may have the most impact. 

The council has no powers to regulate other street clutter such as advertising boards or shop displays under this legislation.

5. Are there linkages to other agencies or departments?

Yes, the main linkages are with DfI Roads and PSNI as the council is required to consult about licensing applications with DfI Roads, and where the premises are licensed for the sale of alcohol, also to consult with the PSNI.

BCC Environmental Health and BCC Planning Service can also be involved in some applications, as can the Building Regulations function within Building Control (for example when fixed awnings are being provided to a pavement café).


Section B

Information on the consultation process, supporting evidence gathered and has four key questions outlining the likely impacts for equality and good relations

6.  Outline consultation process planned or achieved

The Licensing of Pavement Cafes Bill was introduced in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 17 June 2013 (Bill 24/11-15) following calls from key stakeholders for the introduction of a statutory licensing scheme for pavement cafés, a consultation was launched. The department also met with several organisations to discuss the issue. The consultation paper sought views on a proposal to provide district councils with the power to license occupiers of suitable premises to place table and chairs on the pavement. The overall response to the consultation was very positive.

Before introducing the bill, in accordance with its duty under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the department conducted a screening exercise on the proposal for a statutory licensing scheme, concluding that it did not have any significant implications for equality and that an equality impact assessment was therefore not necessary. 

During formulation of the bill, there was engagement between department officials and groups representing disabled people and the Communities Committee consulted with the groups that represent people with disabilities during its detailed consideration of the bill.  During the process of bringing the Licensing of Pavement Cafés Bill through the Assembly, the committee called for evidence. One general concern that the Communities Committee had, as it took evidence during the committee stage, was the potential implications of pavement cafés for those with disabilities, particularly if there is expansion of pavement cafés. 

Communities Committee members met representatives of RNIB and were made aware of the inconvenience and potential distress that could be experienced by partially-sighted individuals when presented with unfamiliar obstacles on journeys with which they are usually familiar. 

The Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC) and Guide Dogs Northern Ireland responded to the department’s initial consultation and proposals paper and suggested that the bill should have been subject to a full equality impact assessment. 

The Communities Committee held an evidence session on 17 October 2013 with the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC) and Guide Dogs Northern Ireland and considered comments from Disability Action.

Engagement and consultation carried out by the council

At the council’s Licensing Committee’s meeting of 21 October 2015, representatives from the DfC Social Policy Unit and from Hospitality Ulster appeared before the committee to discuss the introduction of the new legislation and the supplementary guidance being developed to help councils administer applications.

Arising from this, the Licensing Committee agreed that officers should facilitate discussion between councils, DfC and DfI, Hospitality Ulster, Disability Action, Transport NI, the PSNI and other relevant parties, with a view to formulating guidance and practice note on the design and management of pavement cafés in Northern Ireland.

It was felt that the supplementary guidelines produced by DfC were drafted without the appropriate level of engagement with councils and other key stakeholders. Officers from the Building Control Service have been in discussion with councils throughout Northern Ireland and other relevant stakeholders including IMTAC to develop good practice guidance on the design and management of pavement cafés prior to the introduction of the Act on 1 October 2016.

The Licensing Forum NI, which is chaired by the Building Control Manager, had set up working groups with representatives from the 11 councils to establish consistency of approach and to seek ways to reduce the administrative burden on councils and businesses alike.  Working groups have engaged with key stakeholders including Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Roads, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), IMTAC and representatives of other disability groups and the Planning Service.

The Building Control Service has engaged:

  • With key stakeholders including DfI Roads, PSNI, and the Planning Service through participation in Licensing Forum NI working groups;
  • With its existing licensing customers through its regular Licensing Customer forum directly with Hospitality Ulster;
  • By making presentations to the Public Space Management Action Group, which is facilitated by BCCM, and by working with this group in developing best practice guidance. We have continued to meet with the group. Pavement cafés is a regular agenda item;
  • By making a presentation at Economic Development’s Retail Forum Meeting in June 2016 – which is used to communicate with retail business association in the city including Belfast City Centre Management, NIRTA and the NI Retail Consortium and seven business associations (including Ballyhackamore, Antrim Road, Belmont Road, West Belfast Traders' Forum, Holywood Arches Business Association and Greater Shankill Business Association);
  • By making a presentation to the council’s Consultative Forum;
  • By having a walk around the city centre with disabled people;
  • By attending meetings with IMTAC and making a presentation to their board. We also continue to engage with IMTAC regarding how the licensing of pavement cafés is impacting on their members, we also sought their opinion on extending the temporary licence period; and
  • Attended a meeting with the Northern Irelabd Assembly’s All-Party Group on Visual Impairment.

Consultation on best practice guidance and design standards 

See information on engagement by Building Control Service.

Consultation on fees

The act states the procedures which the council must follow in setting the fees.  The Building Control Service consulted with potential pavement café operators on the proposed fees for a pavement café licence application. We placed a public notice in the three main papers, had an online questionnaire on citizen space, consulted directly with trade and business groups. The outcome of this consultation was brought before the Licensing Committee, and the final fee was determined for a five-year licence and ratified by full council.

The council had determined that no fees will be applied during a limited Recovery phase of COVID-19 pandemic. The council has further agreed that no fees will be sought during the Licence extension period. All licensees will be notified when this situation changes.

Planned consultation on pavement café licence applications

Councils will have autonomy to select which representative groups they consult with, with regards to the establishment of pavement cafés. (Hansard 25 June 2013 Volume 86, No 6).

It is recognised that new pavement cafés appearing in areas where pedestrians, particularly those with sight loss and who are blind, are familiar with, may have the most impact.  Consultation during the application process will be by listing applications and licensed pavement cafés on our Pavement cafés page. We acknowledge that these licences and guidance are being implemented as a temporary pilot and they will be subject to ongoing monitoring and review.


7.  Available evidence

What evidence or information (both qualitative and quantitative) have you gathered to inform this policy?  Set out all evidence to help inform your screening assessment.

It is important to record information gathered from a variety of sources such as:

  • monitoring information
  • complaints
  • research surveys
  • consultation exercises from other public authorities

Monitoring information

Over 100 planned inspections have been carried out. Generally, the level of licence compliance has been high. We continue to meet with the Public Space Management Action Group, who provide feedback on the process and licensed premises.

Complaints

We monitor complaints about pavement cafés and the licensing process and any recurring themes will be used to inform future reviews of the licensing scheme. The public can contact us by email or telephone to make a complaint about a pavement café. Complaints about individual pavement café premises are investigated and will be considered when the licence is up for renewal. The number of complaints that have been received to date is reasonably low, totaling 11 complaints about licensed pavement cafés and 12 for unlicensed locations.  Most complaints came in the May Bank Holiday weekend (2021) coinciding with re-opening of outdoor areas. Most complaints have been resolved quickly. If there are complaints, the Belfast City Council comments and complaints procedure will be available. Common themes have been:

  • pavement café (PC) furniture obstructing footpath, pedestrian movement, particularly for people with disabilities
  • PC furniture obstructing or blocking access to other premises
  • Unlicensed PC
  • Cleansing issues
  • PC at other premises frontage with no permission
  • PC area not managed, anti-social behaviour
  • Use of a loading bay.  

Research or survey

Work was undertaken to survey Belfast to establish the numbers of pavement café premises at present in Belfast. There are approximately 300.

Consultation exercise and other public authorities

Previous consultation regarding Licensing Forum guidance, which is basis of our guide.

Section 75 category Details of evidence information and engagement
Religious belief

This is not applicable

Political opinion

This is not applicable.

Racial group

This is not applicable.

Age

Older people are more likely to have issues relating to restricted mobility.

Marital status

This is not applicable.

Sexual orientation

This is not applicable.

Men and women generally

This is not applicable.

Disability

The needs of disabled people have been considered.

Dependants

People with dependants both older and younger may be impacted. 


8. What is the likely impact (indicate if the policy impact is positive or negative) on equality of opportunity for those affected by this policy, for each of the Section 75 equality categories? What is the level of impact?

Section 75 category Likely impact Level of impact
Religious belief None None
Political opinion 

None

None
Racial group 

None

None

Age

The needs of older people within the pavement café and using footpath or street have been considered.

None
Marital status

None

None
Sexual orientation None None
Men and women generally  None None
Disability

The needs of disabled people within the pavement café and using footpath or street have been considered.

None

 Dependants
The needs of people with dependants within the pavement café and using footpath or street have been considered.
None

9.  Are there opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity for people within the Section 75 equalities categories?

Section 75 category If 'yes', provide details If 'no', provide reasons
Religious belief No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Political opinion  No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Racial group  No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Age We will continue to review the guidance and licensing and its impact on older people to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Marital status No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Sexual orientation No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Men and women generally  No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Disability We will continue to review the guidance and licensing and its impact on disabled people to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

 Dependants We will continue to review the guidance and licensing and its impact on people with dependants to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable


10. To what extent is the policy likely to impact (positive or negatively) on good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group? What is the level of impact? 

Good relations category Likely impact Level of impact
Religious belief

None

None
Political opinion  None None
Racial group None None

11.  Are there opportunities to better promote good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?  

Good relations category If 'yes', provide details If 'no', provide details
Religious belief No There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  
Political opinion 

No

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  
Racial group  No There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature.  

Section C

Belfast City Council also has legislative obligations to meet under the Disability Discrimination Order. Questions 12 and 13 relate to these areas.

Consideration of Disability Duties

12. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity for the council to better promote positive attitudes towards disabled people?

Explain your assessment in full

Yes, while opportunities are limited, needs of disabled people have been considered.  Guidance for pavement café licensing addresses the needs of disabled people, both within the pavement café area for patrons and in preventing restrictions of movement or obstruction for passers-by.  The licensing scheme supports a positive attitude towards disabled people, by ensuring that facilities are accessible, suitably positioned and with appropriate visibility.  The guidance and licences will be monitored and reviewed to assess any issues which require reconsideration.


13. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity to actively increase the participation by disabled people in public life?

Explain your assessment in full

Yes, given that licensed pavement cafés will ensure that the needs of disabled persons as customers and passers-by are met, through enforcement of best practice design and management guidelines. The licensed pavement cafés will be accessible to disabled people to enjoy and participate in café culture and in keeping with the DDA, and they should not obstruct access to the existing indoor services. This will be achieved through the provision of suitable furniture, which is adequately spaced, adequately visible and limited to a defined area that is screened-off in order to prevent people, especially those with visual impairment colliding without warning with groups of chairs or tables.  There will be a requirement to maintain a clear passage space on the footpath, and to maintain clear access to road crossing points and the access to adjoining businesses.

It is envisaged that there will be continuing improvement of standards and accessibility, and therefore the licensing process supports the participation by disabled people in public life, by ensuring that pavement cafés and the areas around them are accessible and supportive of their needs.


14. Multiple identities

Provide details of data on the impact of the policy with multiple identities

None


15. Monitoring arrangements

Section 75 places a requirement the council to have equality monitoring arrangements in place:

  • to assess the impact of policies and services
  • to help identify barriers to fair participation
  • to better promote equality of opportunity
Outline what data you will collect in the future to monitor the impact of this policy or decision on equality, good relations and disability duties.
Equality Good Relations Disability Duties

Complaints are considered

Complaints are considered Complaints are considered and enforcement action taken as appropriate or required.
Unusual trends are considered Unusual trends are considered Unusual trends are considered and taken into account as relevant at renewal of licence.

Section D

Formal record of screening decision

Title of proposed policy or decision being screened

A licensing scheme for pavement cafés in Belfast and associated guidance for applicants during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I can confirm that the proposed policy or decision has been screened for:

  • equality of opportunity and good relations
  • disability duties
On the basis of the answers to the screening questions, I recommend that this policy or decision is
Screened in 
It is necessary to conduct an equality impact assessment
Not applicable

Screened out
It is not necessary to conduct an equality impact assessment (no impacts)

Yes
Provide a brief note to explain how this decision was reached.

Screened out
Mitigating actions (minor impacts)

  • Provide a brief note to explain how this decision was reached
  • Explain what mitigating actions or policy changes will now be introduced.

Impact on pedestrians and particularly for disabled people have been taken into account, through consultation, and relevant issues captured in the best practice design and management guidance that is to be used in assessing premises at the licence application stage for proposed pavement cafés.

The list of premises with a current pavement café licence, and new applications received for a licence are listed on our Pavement cafés web page.

Monitoring and review process will continue during this extended phase of the temporary scheme.


Screening assessment completed by

Name:     Stephen Hewitt

Date: 19 June 2020

Department : Place and Economy


Screening decision approved by

Name: Stephen Hewitt

Date: 19 June 2020

Department:   Place and Economy

Review of screening

Screening assessment review completed by (officer level)

Name: Laura Hillis
Date: 1 November 2021
Department: Place and Economy 

Screening decision approved

Name:  Stephen Hewitt
Date:  15 November 2021
Department: Place and Economy


Please save the Word final version of the completed screening form and email to the Equality and Diversity Officer: equality@belfastcity.gov.uk  A link to this screening form will be provided to the council's Section 75 consultee.

For more information about equality screening, contact:

Lorraine Dennis or Lisa McKee
Equality and Diversity Unit
Belfast City Council
Belfast City Hall
Belfast
BT1 5GS
Telephone:  028 9027 0511
Email: equality@belfastcity.gov.uk

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Footnotes

[1] Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (link opens in new window)

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