Falkirk pub’s outdoor tables and chairs impact on disabled parking spaces

The manager of a Falkirk pub says the business was left with no choice but to apply for a license to operate an outdoor seating area – at the expense of parking spaces – to ensure its survival.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 11:48 am
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 11:56 am

The Courtyard was granted permission by Falkirk Council to set up tables and chairs in Baxter’s Wynd so it could accommodate more customers when Covid restrictions eased.

However, concerns have since been raised over the impact the tented zone is having on disabled drivers who use the road to access the town centre.

A member of the public said: “The tent is in the middle of the road, leading to single file traffic.

Customers enjoy a drink outside The Courtyard in Falkirk. Picture: Michael Gillen.

“I struggled to get a space which is a lifeline for disabled drivers to access Falkirk High Street.

“This obstruction, in my opinion, is dangerous. It beggars belief that this has been passed.”

The Courtyard stayed shut when bars were initially allowed to resume business outdoors last year.

Manager Melissa Tocher insists the decision to provide an outdoor service stemmed from necessity.

Help then arrived in the shape of the local authority and Falkirk Delivers, the town’s Business Improvement District (BID).

Melissa said: “We never intended to cause anybody grief.

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“Our intention was purely to get the business back up and running again. Having that area at the front gave us that opportunity to open.

“At the point of the second lockdown, we couldn’t reopen. The second lockdown felt like we were taking 25 steps back and almost like we were having to start again.

“I thought, ‘My income is dependent on it and I have family who work with me – we need to do something so we have the best chance’.

“I had my wee girl in the first lockdown. I had to make sure the business had the best chance I could give it because she didn’t ask to be born in this.

“We approached the council and the BID who were, and are, really supportive of us. They’ve helped us to obtain the area at the front of the pub.

“The council came out and checked the site and we had environmental health out.

“The gazebo was provided to us through the BID. It’s not a permanent structure, it’s a temporary fix.

“When we opened, the weather turned absolutely horrendous. Our customers were still coming out because they wanted to support us.”

Business grants secured through the government’s coronavirus resilience fund, along with backing from the council’s roads department, were crucial for The Courtyard.

Melissa added: “We went through the proper routes.

“We’re ultimately trying to keep a business going.”

A council spokesman said: “Throughout Covid-19, different agencies have come together to try and support economic activity throughout our town centres.

“A number of premises across the Falkirk area applied successfully for the occasional licenses to sell and consume alcohol in designated areas.

“The use of the carriageway is subject to the roads authority granting permission. This was granted and a risk assessment carried out.

“It was considered acceptable to remove the disabled parking here temporarily to facilitate this site due to the number of alternatives.

“The licensing board has taken a pragmatic approach to continue to help support local businesses and will continue to do so.”

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