Slieve Gullion Councillor Aoife Finnegan has welcomed  that  Newry Mourne and Down Council has agreed to the proposal from the Strategic Policy & Resources Committee which will allow  the fees for Street Pavement  Café licences to be waived for 12 months and will fast trek the application process.

The Councillor has been working with  businesses in the Crossmaglen who as they prepare to start their  post Covid-19 recovery, have expressed an interest in adding outside spacing and seating,  said that whilst  It’s important to get the economy moving again and introducing this initiative will help, it is also essential that access and mobility for any individual is not restricted.

The Councillor said “After my initial enquiries as to how to move the issue of Street Café on, the then Community Minister Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, wrote to all councils Including Newry Mourne & Down  on 11 June stating that her Department was working to support town and city centres in their recovery.

Cllr Finnegan also encouraged councils to make more use of the existing pavement café legislation and assured them that she was committed to working with relevant stakeholders to resolve any issues that still remain around the implementation of licences in terms of planning and guidance.

Continuing the Slieve Gullion representative said "I know lots of businesses across South Armagh will benefit from having this option  and I cannot wait to see places like the Square in Crossmaglen come alive again, with people, families, and the community as a whole back together socialising and giving our local economy a good boost”.

The Councillor however warned,“It’s important to get the economy moving again, but that must not come at the expense of restricting access or movement for individuals and particular disabled people.

"Adding more tables and chairs for outdoor eating could put people with disabilities or mobility problems at risk if they have to walk in the road, or force people to break social distancing rules to get past”.

Cllr Finnegan concluded “Cluttered  streets have been a problem for people with wheelchairs, buggies and those living with sight loss, however I believe that working together with all stakeholders  and considering everyone in our society, we will get the right balance”.

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