COUNCIL bosses in Oldham have approved moves to encourage more pavement licences - as the hard-hit hospitality industry seeks to recover from the lockdown.

Towns across the High Peak have already taken advantage of new legislation to establish more outdoor eating and drinking areas.

And several bids for similar activities are in the pipeline for Oldham borough, the Times can reveal.

Under new emergency powers, the government endorsed an amendment under the Business and Planning Act whereby councils could grant pavement licences, charging up to £100, as part of a new streamlined system.

Town hall leaders in Oldham have approved a £50 levy to cover the costs of administering the scheme.

Council deputy chief executive Helen Lockwood, in a decision notice approving the move, said: "The charge level also has regard to the challenging trading environment faced by local businesses at this time and seeks not to be overly burdensome whilst fulfilling the requirements of the Act.

"It is not clear at this stage how much additional activity this new licence requirement will generate.

"It is, probable, however, that any new activity will be temporary in nature and last only for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Arrangements will be introduced to manage the new licensing regime.

"Monitoring arrangements will be put in place to ensure that costs do not exceed the income generated from the proposed fee."

Council officials do not forsee the new regime costing the authority any more than the revenue it might feasibly generate.

Those wanting to kickstart Oldham's cafe culture, to date, include the Dinnerstone Restaurant in Uppermill, the Duke of Edinburgh, Pinchito's Wine Bar and the JLR Live Lounge, both in Royton, and the Parliament Square Cafe and Deli in Oldham.

Representations can be made for or against the proposals, as appropriate, if they are within the time framework allowed.

The applications must be advertised locally and anyone with views have seven days to make them known.

The council then has a further seven days in which to make a determination on the proposal.

Council chiefs have delegated such decisions to the borough's principal licensing officer, according to the official decision notice.

Last month, when it came to reopening pubs and restaurants more widely after the lockdown, not all establishments immediately comfortable in welcoming back punters.

Close consideration had to be given to social distancing, the provision of hand sanitisers and creating an adequate track and trace system, which would meet public health requirements.

Several licensing applications are also currently under consideration in High Peak, under the new pavement licensing system.

Eateries such as The Old Cell, in Market Place, in Chapel-en-le-Frith, the Sacro Lounge and La Capri's, in Spring Gardens, both in Buxton, have all lodged application for such provisions.

Council leader Cllr Anthony Gamesley has already pledged the High Peak authority's backing for more pavement licences after the new planning laws were unveiled.

He said: "“These changes will make it easier for restaurants, bars and pubs to serve customers outdoors via ‘pavement licences’.

“We will work in partnership with businesses and other partners to assess the impact of these proposals as they come forward.”