The council is asking the Wexford cafe to remove the outdoor dining area, although it has already granted permission

It has emerged Wexford County Council gave written permission for a controversial new outdoor seating area on South Main Street over a year ago, although it has now told owners they have 48 hours to reduce or delete it.

he new enclosed space outside Stable Diet caused some controversy during its construction, with many taking to social media to express their displeasure that it had ‘taken over the whole trail’.

While seating outside the cafe had previously been largely hassle-free, the addition of large windbreaks to enclose the space has completely blocked off the pavement, preventing wheelchair users or parents with strollers to pass without moving or crossing the road.

An annoyed pedestrian said, “When I’m all for outdoor dining etc. why is the whole path now blocked and forcing people to walk on the road?”

However, Stable Diet management has now revealed that Wexford County Council has not only approved the seating area, but has also approved an application for funding for outdoor dining to help cover some of the costs involved.

Having seen a delay in the delivery of the screens, the cafe was told no later than a week before they were installed that they had permission which is why it came as a shock when the local authority sent a notice to remove screens within 48 hours.

“Last year we were given permission to put up screens and the town hall told us that we could go straight out to the sewer at the edge of the path,” said a spokesperson for the cafe. “The town hall had said that they were going to remove two parking spaces to leave a space allowing pedestrians to pass in complete safety.

“When the screens arrived, we actually contacted the council to put the bollards in place to block off spaces and allow people to pass through safely. We were actually very concerned about this ourselves, but the council told us that they couldn’t do anything until the following Tuesday. So in the meantime, we put down cones ourselves. We were very concerned about pedestrians having to get out onto the road.”

A similar setup had been approved higher up on South Main Street at Crust Pizzeria, which saw spaces removed and a walkway created around an outdoor dining area on the trail. Questions are now being raised about Wexford County Council’s lack of a firm and transparent policy regarding outdoor dining.

Meanwhile, Stable Diet feels like it’s been left in limbo.

“It was suggested that we remove a sign,” the spokesperson said. “But realistically it’s not going to work at all. Either it all stays or it all goes away. But it cost us quite a bit of money to do it and we’re a small business that can’t afford that kind of thing. expenses. “

Meanwhile, local Fianna Fáil minister James Browne called the setup “completely unacceptable”, while the Minister of State for People with Disabilities agreed with her government colleague saying: “This action in says a lot and does not reflect well on Wexford County Council and needs to be addressed TODAY! Public space is for all, not the few. I’m no engineer, but the terms universal design and inclusion should help all planning decisions.

Having been approached by members of the public who raised concerns and spoke with the owners of Stable Diet, Cllr George Lawlor acknowledged there had been a breakdown in communication between the local authority and the company.

“In this case, it looks like there was a communication breakdown somewhere along the line,” he said. “It was also a matter of timing in terms of concessions that were given during Covid that are no longer applicable.

“Stable Diet is a long-standing company with an excellent reputation and we will have to find some sort of amicable arrangement until the end of the year. But I don’t think the current situation can last.”

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