Diners' 'safety gap' queried

FAIRFIELD'S cafe and restaurant owners should be able to breathe a little easier following the council's decision to decrease the amount of setback required between outdoor diners and the road, but still some remain angered.

At its last meeting the council agreed to change the buffer zone from 2.5 metres to 2.1 metres.

Roads and Maritime Services requested the council make minor changes to its outdoor dining policy earlier this year.

It stated the council needed to put in place a clear zone between diners at businesses located on urban roads (60 kilometres per hour or less).

The initial RMS recommendation was that the zone be no less than 2.5 metres from the edge of the kerb.

The council wrote to RMS, claiming the clear zone should be measured from the travelled path of vehicles rather than from the kerb, creating a 2.1-metre buffer.

In October the council received a written response from RMS senior land use planner James Hall saying RMS had no objections to the change.

"Concurrence from RMS for footpath dining is only required for classified roads," he said in the letter. "The majority of roads in town centres within Fairfield LGA are local roads under the care and control of council.

"Hence, footpath dining on these local roads shall be undertaken to council's satisfaction."

There are at least six businesses along Ware Street, Fairfield, and its surrounding streets that would have been affected if the change was not made by the council.

One of those businesses is Bondeno Cafe.

But the owner, Eno Dizdaric, said while the change won't affect business, having any sort of setback would be dangerous.

"This is still not safe," he said.

"If there is a half-metre gap between the kerb and outdoor dining, then people will walk through it, making it even more dangerous, so it's not going to work.

"People will remain inside the boundary if there is no gap so this will just increase the danger not the safety of people and the council will have to take responsibility if something happens.

"It's just a matter of time."

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