FOR street cafés and restaurants with large terraces, a roaring trade throughout the summer generates revenue to tide trade over through the winter. In Benidorm, however, inspections on the number of chairs and tables permitted have caused a great deal of resentment amongst owners who feel they are being treated unfairly by the council as they are told to cut down the numbers of covers served on their terraces.
In many cases owners have had to clear only one or two illegal tables and chairs but in one or two instances restaurateurs have lost half their seating. One café owner said: “I had to halve the 36 tables I had and now I have had to lay off staff because there just aren’t enough customers to warrant keeping them.”
Calle Alameda was targeted for inspection first and other streets followed, with Department of Trade representatives warning owners of impending inspections. According to the proprietors most affected by the clampdown on terrace tables, the stringent checks being carried out at present are “counter-productive” to trade, with changes made regardless of whether the street furniture disturbs other bars or the flow of traffic and pedestrians.
One lady remarked: “You would think our businesses would be encouraged – we bring trade to the streets instead of people coming only to visit the banks or the shops. The terraces provide life and bustle, yet our efforts are unappreciated.”
The fine for exceeding the number of tables ranges between €1,200 and €1,500 although for now no penalties have been levied while proprietors and the council exchange views and dialogue as to where the boundaries are and what the penalties are for exceeding them.