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Bistro owner shocked after being reported for having outdoor seating area

PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:32 18 June 2020

Liam O'Sullivan serving drinks in the Gallery Bistro PICTURE: Matthew Farmer

Liam O'Sullivan serving drinks in the Gallery Bistro PICTURE: Matthew Farmer

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A north Norfolk business has been left feeling “shocked” after another shop in the town reported him to the council for having an outdoor seating area.

The Gallery Bistro in Fakenham. Picture: Ian BurtThe Gallery Bistro in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

Fakenham’s Gallery Bistro owner Liam O’Sullivan, 42, opened his doors for the first time since March on June 11, serving takeaway coffees, and offering socially-distanced tables and chairs outside for people to sit at.

Mr O’Sullivan said he was “pushing his luck” offering his customers a place to sit, but being reported by another business upset him.

“It’s totally unsupportive of a business to be acting like that during this time,” he said.

“I was trying to make a living, we should be working together to get through this.

The Gallery Bistro in Fakenham. Picture: Ian BurtThe Gallery Bistro in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

“People have families and these are difficult times.

“It would have been much better for the council to speak to me, rather than it coming from another business in the town which has stopped me operating.”

Mr O’Sullivan said that he had signs around the tables and chairs to encourage social distancing between bubbles, and was wiping down the tables and chairs with antibacterial wipes.

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He said he was not “100pc on the rules, but wanted to provide something positve for the town at this time”.

He said that the reaction to the tables was greatly appreciated by people in the town.

“People in the town were so grateful”, he said.

“I wanted to offer something different to the customers - being able to sit outside in the open, lowering the risk of spreading COVID -19 and enjoying some sense of normality.”

He has owned the bistro for almost 20 years and said that tables outside the business have always been there during his time.

A spokesperson for North Norfolk district council said: “We were notified that table and chairs were placed outside the Gallery Bistro in Fakenham, contrary to current government guidelines, which states outdoor seating should not be made available to customers.

“An officer made contact with the owner in an advisory capacity and notified them of this guidance.

“The officer had a constructive conversation with the owner and will look to continue to work with the Bistro, to assist with re-opening safely in line with guidance as it emerges in the coming weeks.”


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