CAFES and restaurants in the Fairfield area will soon feel the pinch after Roads and Maritime Services called on the council to amend its outdoor dining policy.
After placing its proposed policy on public exhibition the council received a late submission from RMS on February 12, 2012, asking for changes.
RMS said the policy should provide for a clear zone, in urban roads (60km/h or less), of no less than 2.5 metres from the edge of the kerb for outdoor dining use.
Fairfield Council sent a letter to RMS saying it would be impracticable and asked that the clear zone be measured from the travelled path of vehicles rather than from the kerb, creating a 2.1-metre buffer zone.
While the council has yet to receive a written response, verbal communication with an RMS senior transport planner said the council's approach might be acceptable.
There are at least six businesses along Ware Street, Fairfield, and its surrounding streets that will be affected by this change.
One of these businesses is Bondeno Cafe.
The owner, Eno Dizdaric, said he was outraged at what the RMS put forward and said the first time he had heard about this was when the Champion contacted him.
"If this goes ahead we will lose five tables and 20 chairs," he said. "It's not fair."
"Most of our customers want to sit outside and we're always full but if we lose these tables and chairs then they will be forced to go elsewhere.
"We try so hard to make our business move forward and bring the European style of living here but that will be taken away from us. I'm really upset and I feel like a bird without a wing."
The 56-year-old, who has owned the family business for 16 years, said he had never seen an accident on Ware Street.
"If they put in these clear zones and allow people to walk through it, it'll be even more dangerous," he said.
But an RMS spokeswoman said despite pedestrians being allowed to walk within the clear zones, "a minimum 2.5-metre clearance zone was needed to reduce the risk of a vehicle which leaves the road injuring diners".
"Where parking is provided next to diners this clearance can be reduced to one metre," she said.
On July 6, 2015, smoking will be prohibited in all outdoor dining areas.
Mr Dizdaric's son Almir, who is manager of Bondeno Cafe, said this would destroy the family business.
"When that comes into effect it's going to have a massive effect on us because the majority of our customers are smokers," he said.
Fairfield deputy mayor Lawrence White spoke on the new changes at the most recent ordinary council meeting. He sympathised with Mr Dizdaric.
"By the time we do this to our local cafe and then when they get hit with the no-smoking policy in 2015, they might as well pack up and shut down," he said. "It's going to have a big impact on the business."
Cr White wants to hold off placing the draft outdoor dining policy — including the new changes — on public exhibition for a month to see how other councils across the state were responding.
All councillors backed Cr White.