A PETITION has been launched by a Darlington bar calling for its outdoor seating to be reinstated.

Dr.inks, in Coniscliffe Road, has been told it is not allowed to serve drinks from the outdoor seating area in the street due to concerns about the safety of customers crossing the road.

The decision has been branded as ludicrous by the bar. 

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Manager Daniel Middleton said: “It’s just frustrating. I’ve lost a few customers. Those seats are like gold dust so people just grab them. I’ve had people come over and place an order and when I say we can’t serve them over there they cancel it.”

He added: “It’s a bit of a shame. People were buzzing about it being there, especially with the hot weather due to come.”

The seating had been introduced during the pandemic to help businesses, including Dr.inks, Number 22s, Hash and Orb to keep going amid restrictions on indoor hospitality.

The Northern Echo:

Last year, that part of the road was closed to traffic to ensure it was safe. However, this year, there is a one-way system in place, meaning the road is still in use.

Concrete slabs have been put in place on one side to cordon off outside table areas for a number of bars – but they can only be used by venues on that side of the road.

Citing safety, Darlington Borough Council has told Dr.inks it cannot serve customers in the seating area due to customers having to cross the carriageway.

The Northern Echo:

Mr  Middleton said he had been told earlier in the year that the pavement seating would be returning and he had applied for a licence before learning the road would not be closing this year.

On Friday, the bar was told it could not serve outside or it risked losing its licence.

He has even suggested employing a lollipop person to help people cross the road, and said he was willing to consider only doing table service – but the offers have been rejected.

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He said: “When they told us they were bringing it back we were really happy. Then they decided not to close the road but to make it a one-way system. It wasn’t ideal but we thought we had to get used it. We had to do a risk assessment for customers and staff crossing the road and I’d got stickers for the tables to tell people to be aware of traffic.

“Then on Friday we got a letter saying it had come to their attention we had been serving drinks in the pavement seating area and we could lose our licence.”

He added: “Next year when they pedestrianize the street we can have seating but because they have decided to keep the road open we are at a loss.” 

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 A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “We understand the concerns raised by Dr Inks’ management, but we simply have to put people’s safety first. That was the only factor in the decision in regards to their pavement licence.”

To view the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/reinstate-dr-inks-street-seating

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