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ePetition details

#SaveOurSeats - Don't Scrap Pavement Licenses

We the undersigned Reject Bristol City Council's decision to end pavement licenses for bars and pubs in the city centre past 11pm. Allow licensed businesses to keep their pavement licenses until close, reflecting their current licensed hours.

Imagine a summer night, a cool drink in hand, and nowhere to sit. Outdoor seating has helped Bristol nightlife thrive - and Bristol City Council want to take this away.

April 2023, just before the Summer began, Bristol City Council informed local city centre bars and pubs that they needed to bring all furniture off the street by 11pm. This means businesses have to move people off seats and bring all their furniture inside; getting in the way of customers inside, and potentially dangerously overcrowding their pubs.

Previous to the pandemic, the Mother’s Ruin did not need a pavement license for tables and chairs. However, since 2020, Bristol City Council have insisted that the business has pavement license; this license when granted mirrored the trading license of the pub - 10am until 2am, until this month, when the Council enforced an 11pm curfew without consultation.

Bristol City Council encouraged the use of pavement licenses to businesses like the Mother's Ruin Bristol respective during the pandemic. Outside seating breathed life back into the streets of the Old City made quiet by COVID19.

It has given space for those immunocompromised and those who require disability access, bringing curated hospitality to everyone’s needs: table service, QR codes, extensive mocktail and alcohol free menus. This is what Bristol City Council granted to the local pubs and bars of Bristol; with an aim to make areas accessible, to boost the local economy and music scene.

Bristol City Council originally celebrated pavement licenses. It was plastered on tourist billboards, touted as a new future of Bristol. Now they’re wielding an open attack against it - going back against their word, trying to hide and shun the nightlife community.

Shutting down our pavement license would not just shrink the currently expanding Mother’s Ruin, setting it back at least 600K in annual turn over, but would shut down a lively and exciting part of Bristol’s night life scene which people enjoy so much. Hitting independent venues the hardest, And it’s not just us - it’s the entirety of the Old City, reaching as far as King Street, an area known for their beautiful outside seating next to the waterfront. Areas affected are as follows:

St Nicholas Street: The Crown, The Mother’s Ruin, Seamus O’Donells, Boardrooms, Mr Wolfs.
King Street: King Street Brewhouse, The Old Duke, The Llandoger Trow, Kongs, The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, Hey Dude Bar, King William Ale House, Small Bar, Bristol Old Vic.

The real question is - why change anything now? How will it benefit Bristol by taking pavement licenses away from local businesses? If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Even better; if it’s thriving, don’t stop it! Curfews risk changing police focus to dealing with public order offences as a result of kick outs.

Taking away pavement licenses is a huge mistake which will hinder the local economy and irreparably damage night life and it's cultural community in Bristol.


Started by: Marc Griffiths

This ePetition ran from 19/04/2023 to 06/06/2023 and has now finished.

5816 people signed this ePetition.

Council response

This petition completed on 31st May with 5,816 signatures of which 5,193 have Bristol postcodes.

In response to the petition on 25 May 2023 the Council responded with the following press release,

Late night businesses in Bristol have been offered the opportunity to extend the opening hours of their temporary outdoor seating spaces in time for the busy summer period.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, has written to businesses and those who represent that bar and pub trade in the city to extend the offer following discussions with the sector and the council’s Licensing and Highways teams.

In a letter, sent today, the Mayor said: “Bristol’s night-time economy represents a third of the city's workforce and is a key priority for my administration. I’m proud to support amazing local businesses who have added further vibrancy to our city’s streets with an enhanced outdoor hospitality offer, it has been a really welcome addition.

“It’s disappointing that, after the pandemic, national government decided not extend the legislation that had provided greater flexibility in this area. This has resulted in the position we now find ourselves in, with some outdoor licences returning to the previous position of 11pm.

“There are clear benefits to extending them beyond that time where it is appropriate to do so and, of course, striking a balance with local residents.

“My office is working with Carly Heath, the council’s Night Time Economy Advisor; officers; and traders to explore the options that are available. I’m encouraged that a positive conclusion can be found.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a national, temporary measure was introduced to the Business and Planning Act 2020 and Licensing Act 2003 allowing all premises previously restricted to the sales of alcohol for consumption on the premises (on-sale) to supply alcohol for consumption off the premises (off-sales).

Some businesses used this national, temporary provision to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside of their premises to continue to operate under the COVID rules. These rules, set by government, allowed tables and chairs to be in place until 11pm and are due to run until September 2023.

Following a call by local businesses to consider extending the use of these temporary tables and chairs to match the opening hours of the premises, the Mayor, along with Night Time Economy Advisor, Carly Heath, asked officers to explore alternative options.

Those businesses who qualify for the proposed time extensions will now be able to ask for an amendment to their license or be given the option to apply for changes to their licensing conditions. Each premises will be considered individually based on its circumstances.

Any business wishing to take advantage of this offer is asked to contact the team by email -

Full text of the guidance to businesses:

Outdoor hospitality: tables and chairs and the provision of alcohol

Licensing and the provision of alcohol

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary measure was introduced to the Business and Planning Act 2020 and Licensing Act 2003 allowing all premises previously restricted to the sales of alcohol for consumption on the premises (on-sale) to supply alcohol for consumption off the premises (off-sales).

This temporary off-sales provision runs until 30 September 2023. This date is in line with the current pavement licence extension.

Any off-sales are subject to existing legal provisions in particular Licensing Act conditions and Planning conditions that may require your business to close at a certain time or restrict activities.

Unless your premise licence states differently, off-sales are permitted until 11.00pm.

Further action:

If your premises licence permits off-sales after 11.00pm, and you wish to continue to use tables and chairs beyond 11:00pm, you should contact to ask for your pavement licence conditions to be reviewed. Please provide a copy of your off-sales licence with your email. There would be no charge to vary the times of an existing pavement licence.

If your premises licence now includes off-sales due to the temporary measures introduced in September 2022, your tables and chairs licence will only be permitted until 11.00pm, or earlier if your premises licences required earlier closure of any outdoor seating area. To extend your premises licence beyond 11.00pm you will need to apply under both the Licensing Act 2003 and the Business and Planning Act 2020.

Links to further information are available below.

Outdoor hospitality: licences and guidance

Outdoor hospitality has been a welcome addition across Bristol in response to the pandemic. It has supported local businesses and added further colour, vibrancy and atmosphere to the streets.

All businesses including cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants must ask the council for permission to have tables, chairs and other pavement furniture or structures on the pavement or road.

The licences and permissions you need will depend on what furniture or structure you want to use and where it is going to be used.

You may need up to four different permissions including:

• Pavement Licence
• Planning permission
• Hospitality Structure Licence
• Electrical Licence
A pavement licence will only grant you permission to place furniture on the highway. Premises that have or are looking to expand outdoors with customers consuming alcohol on the highway will need both a premises licence to sell alcohol and a pavement licence.

Links to further information

Government website:

Guidance on the temporary off-sale permissions of alcohol

Business and Planning 2020 Act (BPA)

Council website:

The different types of alcohol licences available and guidance on how to apply for them

Apply to make changes to a premises licence

Outdoor hospitality: licences and guidance, including fees and how to apply