Publican says cycle path crackdown in Harrogate is ‘unreasonable’
Last updated May 5, 2023
Photo showing Charlie Tinker, owner of Charlie's Place on Otley Road in Harrogate, measuring the pavement outside his pub.

A Harrogate publican told to remove the chairs and tables outside his pub to make way for a cycle path says he feels he is “being punished” by the council’s “unreasonable” demands. 

Charlie Tinker, who owns Charlie’s Place on Otley Road, was sent a letter in March from North Yorkshire County Council saying that the pavement in front of his pub “is now a shared footway/cycleway and as such the full width of the footway is required”. It goes on to demand that he “remove all furniture, heaters and A-boards” from the space outside the pub’s front door. 

Mr Tinker, who has owned Charlie’s Place for 19 years, has complied with the letter but said: 

“It’s not easy for publicans – we’re still trying to recover from the covid lockdowns. The last thing we need is the council making things even more difficult for us.

“With the warmer weather coming, this is going to cost me income. I feel like I’m being punished. 

“What the council is demanding is unreasonable. Just down the road, there’s a council bench and a council bin, both closer to the kerb than anything I’ve put out. It’s one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us.” 

Mr Tinker said he accepted there needs to be a cycle path, but does not believe it should require the whole pavement. He said: 

“The section of dedicated cycle path that they’ve purpose-built just up the road is 5ft 2in (159cm) across, but the council wants the full 11ft 9in (358cm) outside my pub.

“Even if you take into account extra space for, say, a double buggy alongside the cycle path, I should still have enough space for a couple of small tables and some chairs. There should be give and take.” 

Photo of Charlie Tinker, owner of Charlie's Place on Otley Road in Harrogate, who says the council's demands that he remove all chairs, tables and heaters from in front of his pub to make way for a cycle path are "unreasonable".

Charlie Tinker has owned Charlie’s Place for 19 years.

According to the Department of Transport’s guidance published in 2020, the desirable width of a one-way cycle route with a peak flow of fewer than 200 cyclists per hour, as is the case on Otley Road, is 1.5 metres (4ft 11in) – considerably less than half the width of the pavement outside Charlie’s Place.

North Yorkshire Council, which took over the responsibilities of North Yorkshire County Council on April 1, told the Stray Ferret there was no formal street café licence or pavement licence in place, and said there was not enough width to accommodate pedestrians, tables and chairs, adding “this was the case before the Otley Road cycleway was introduced”.

Melisa Burnham, North Yorkshire Council’s highways area manager, said:

“Independent businesses are at the heart of our communities, and we do everything we can to support them. We recognise the importance of outdoor space for the hospitality sector, particularly in recent years when Covid-19 restricted indoor dining.

“In Harrogate and Knaresborough alone, we have around 16 approved street café licences and have worked with 65 businesses since the pandemic to support and introduce pavement licences alongside the former borough council.

“In all cases, the safety of those using the pavements and roads should take priority. Unfortunately, there are pavements which aren’t wide enough to facilitate outdoor seating, and we will always work with these businesses to find possible solutions.”

However, Mr Tinker insisted a small amount of space could, and should, be reserved in front of his premises for customers – just as it has been, albeit unofficially, for the the last two decades. He said without it, there was a serious danger that one of his customers could be injured by a speeding cyclist. He said: 

“Cyclists coming down this hill can really pick up speed, and having the cycle lane so close to our front door is dangerous. There’s no buffer for the customer – they’re walking straight into it. Someone could easily come out of our pub straight into the path of a speeding cyclist – it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”

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