With suggestions in the District Council that we should close public conveniences to help cope with government cuts and let the public rely on cafes etc , this article in the Guardian is quite informative:
How many seats in a coffee shop does it take to necessitate provision of a customer loo? Fifteen? Five? A solitary stool and a sticky counter? An existential question and one that, according to this toilet-user, depends on a complex set of circumstances, from what’s on the menu to where the chairs are positioned. (Five outside? Toilet unlikely. Four inside? Expect a small, whiffy loo with no paper towels in the dispenser.)
The correct answer, according to section 20 of the 1976 Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act, is 10. As in, cafes with fewer than 10 seats are not legally required to provide customer loos. Which is presumably why you can’t scoff a sausage roll in Greggs and then demand use of the washroom but you can order a takeout coffee in a central London Starbucks and get a key to the saddest toilets in Soho. (When it comes to public conveniences don’t be fooled by the romance of a key.)
Despite the 10-seat guideline, thousands of takeaways and coffee shops could now be forced to install a toilet or get rid of seating following a recent case in Hull. Two branches of Greggs, both of which had fewer than 10 seats, lost a legal battle with the council after the judge ruled that not providing facilities gave them an “unfair commercial advantage”. If the ruling, which is being appealed, sets a precedent, as many as 21,500 takeaways and 5,230 coffee shops across the UK – the vast majority of which are small independent businesses – could be affected.
“It would be a major problem,” Raymond Martin, director of the British Toilet Association, says. “Most of these are not going to be able to provide a toilet. Many would be forced to close down.” Would he expect a loo in a takeaway with only a few tables? “It does seem right to provide a toilet if a takeaway allows me to consume food and stay on the premises for a period of time,” he replies diplomatically. “But should we force takeaways to put in toilets? I don’t think we can.”
The real issue, he adds, is the loss of public toilets from our cities and town centres. The law currently does not compel local authorities to provide public toilets – of which there are around 4,000 in the UK – and the result is that Britain has lost more than 40% of its facilities in the past decade…..
Full article here.
Chris Black writes:
It was interesting and welcome to see the Conservatives withdrawing their proposal to extend car-parking charges until 9 pm in the evening. It would have brought in more income but would probably have harmed some of the restaurants and eating and drinking places. These places help to keep our town centres viable , they also supply some business rates for the District Council.
I spent last Friday visiting 11 restaurants and one bar – though I didn’t eat anything in them on that day, and just had a glass of beer (which I paid for!). Three-quarters of the proprietors or duty managers I spoke to were either concerned or very concerned about the proposal. Most were concerned about the impact on trade , “nearly all our customers come before 9 pm” one said. Others were also concerned about the extra cost for staff.
I also spoke to businesses that were open only during the daytime – their customers , and their staff , already had to pay for parking, and they weren’t so concerned about the impact on the night-time trade.
The District Council has a big budget next Tuesday 9th February, at 7:30. We received the agenda today, so there’s a lot of reading to do, and we will write in more detail later. But two things immediately stand out in the proposals from the Conservative administration:
District Council Tax is proposed to rise by 1.93%
It is proposed that some car park charges will rise. For example the 1/2 hour charge in the main shopping car parks will rise from 50p to 60p, and the 1 hour charge from £1.00 to £1.20. Saturday afternoons will stay free. However charges will continue in weekday evenings until 9 pm (instead of 7 pm at present). This could have an impact on restaurants and take-aways…
As we said above, we will write more late. George Osbourne is giving councils a very hard time at the moment…
Pizza Express have invited Rayleigh food blogger Gary Fenn to review their new Rayleigh restaurant – and you can read his review here.
Gary begins his review with an interesting overlook of how the Town Centre has changed in recent years:
My home town of Rayleigh has undergone a huge transformation in the past five years. It suffered the same stagnation that ran across most of the suburban high streets of England in the 2000s as the recession bit. In 2010 restaurant after restaurant opened up and now the high street heaves with people of an evening. We’re now spoiled for choice, not only by chains such as Ask and Prezzo, but wonderful independents such as Marco’s and Pancho’s. In December 2015 they’ve been joined by Pizza Express. The announcement caused a local stir, as it was to be sited in not just any old building, but in the oldest secular building in Rayleigh. With some concession, it went ahead with space allocated to the upper floor for a Rayleigh museum….
It’s not hard to find Rayleigh people complaining that there are now too many restaurants , cafes and barbers, but not enough actual shops. And they have a point. You also wonder if all these restaurants can stay viable. But if you talk to people in their 20s and 30s living elsewhere in south Essex, Rayleigh is a place that they aspire to move to – and that’s partly because the array of restaurants and cafes make the town seem very attractive. Could this also work for the type of small company that has to entertain clients for lunch – will we see more planning applications for offices in the town centre soon?
Back last February we wrote about the food hygiene ratings for restaurants, cafes etc in our district. At that time there was only one premises in our district with a food hygiene rating of zero out of five.
But if you look now at the Food Standards Agency website you will see there are now eleven premises in Rochford district with a zero rating – meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’. There are another eighteen with a one rating – meaning “major improvement necessary”.
By comparison, there are only four zero rated premises in Southend.
There are only three in Basildon.
There are four in Castle Point.
So Rochford has as many places with zero hygiene ratings as Southend, Basildon and Castle Point put together! Is that because hygiene levels are really lower at these places, or are the inspections here tougher?
From the Rayleigh food blog Big Spud an attractive Italian dish rich sausage pappardelle:
The sausages make or break this one – buy the best you can get hold of. I had some lovely herby Toulouse (not very Italian I grant you) but anything spiked with lots of flavours would be perfect here. I like those ‘Italian style’ sausages you can get from delis, punched up with fennel and rosemary which I’ve tried to ape here.
Looking at photos of old buildings can be interesting. Looking at photos of old buildings that have been demolished can be more interesting.
This month Rayleigh Through the Looking Glass looks at demolished buildings like the one above, which was pulled down around 90 years ago. Can you guess what it was?
Well done to Cllr Michael Hoy for trying to improve the District Council’ licensing policy:
That was the only change to the policy and I’m pleased to say that a cumulative impact policy (saturation) is being included in the document. This means that any new applicant within the area (Rayleigh) will have to demonstrate that the new license will not add to existing problems.
There’s a new planning application that’s recently come in. It’s for 57 to 61 High Street Rayleigh, which we think includes Santander Bank, New Look and Elliott and Smith, the new estate agents. You can find the application on the council website here.
The application is described as:
Shopfront Alterations , Erection of First Floor Corridor and Change of Use From A2 (Bank) to A3 (Restaurant)
We’ve haven’t checked with officers on this but the documents indicate a change from a mix of banking and retail to a mix of retail and restaurants:
A while back we mentioned that you can check on local food hygiene ratings for our district here.
At the moment there’s only one premises in our district with a rating of 0 out of 5 – a cafe in Rochford. Though quite a lot of places have a rating of only 1 , meaning “Major Improvement Necessary”
You may have eaten a pork pie hundreds of times (and in Rayleigh Byfords bacon-topped pork pies are especially good). But have you ever made one?
Big Spud – the food blog from Rayleigh – has a recipe here.
It’s a little shambolic round the edges but it’s a lot of fun to make. I hadn’t made hot water pastry before and it spits with volcanic fury so be careful, but it is quite manageable.
The Food Standards Agency is currently showing three restaurants in Rochford District with a zero rating for food hygiene! This rating of 0 out of 5 means ” Urgent Improvement Necessary”
You can find them (and ratings for over 400 other businesses)here.