Pubs and restaurants will have licences to serve customers on pavements and high streets extended in a bid to make al fresco dining more commonplace, Downing Street has announced.
Pavement licences, which were designed to keep businesses afloat when they could not serve customers indoors during the pandemic, will be extended as part of the Government’s high streets strategy.
Licences for pubs and bars to sell drinks to take away will also be extended for another year in the hope that Britons will drink outside and boost hospitality sales this summer.
The announcement came as part of the Boris Johnson’s speech on "levelling up", the cornerstone of Downing Street’s policy offering.
Other policies include £50 million to be spent on grassroots football facilities, with the ambition that no child lives more than 15 minutes away from a pitch.
Ministers will also create a £10 million fund for removing chewing gum from the high streets, paid for by manufacturers, while fast food outlets will have to clean up any litter generated by their business under new planning rules.
A £2 million "war chest" will be spent on removing graffiti, which will be scrubbed from high street walls by criminals. Offenders will also clean up waste left by fly-tippers, as part of a "high visibility" scheme to make high streets prettier.
New "county deals" will allow counties to take more control over transport, skills and economic support, with similar powers to those of metropolitan mayors in English cities.
Mr Johnson’s critics have argued that the levelling up agenda is too vague and amounts to spending money in part of the north of England to the detriment of richer areas in London and the South.
But he told an audience in Coventry on Thursday that the project involved fostering a "strong and dynamic wealth-creating economy" without "decapitating the tall poppies" in rich areas.
"The process of levelling up is not just aimed at creating opportunity throughout the UK – it is about relieving the pressure in the parts that are overheating," he said.
It came as Angela Richardson, the Tory MP for Guildford, called on Mr Johnson to build a £1.5 billion bypass tunnel under the town to show he is levelling up the whole country. She told the Chopper’s Politics podcast that the idea was only fair, given that her constituents often saw their taxes distributed around the UK by the exchequer.
Ms Richardson admitted the plans "sound expensive", but were "probably the best idea" to avoid destroying the landscape around the Surrey town with a bypass.