CONCERNS have been raised that a new government scheme allowing food and drink to be served outside will bring the return of ‘drunkenness on the streets’.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has approved a fast-track pavement licensing scheme to support businesses reopening following the coronavirus lockdown.

Councillors unanimously agreed the policy, which means cafes and pubs will more easily be able to apply for licences to use pavements for tables and chairs to maximise their capacity whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.

However, Mark Wilson an Ulverston town councillor, believes the plans would create a 'strip' in the town centre and encourage criminal behaviour.

He said: “Plans under the new Business Act and Legislation seem to set to take us back to the bad old days of drunkenness on our streets.

“I’m very concerned that residents haven’t been consulted about this and will hardly have a chance to mount objections to the prospect of boozing in the streets or nearby green spaces until September 2021.

“No proper time is being allowed for them to speak to the licensing authorities.

“Places are licensed to sell alcohol until 11pm or later which could create somewhat of a strip in the town centre full of late night drinking.”

A report before SLDC councillors said: “In determining these applications SLDC will have to balance the needs and demands of a number of different interested parties.

“The guiding principle will be that these are temporary measures designed to help business through an unprecedented period of economic uncertainty and wherever practicable we will seek to issue these licences to allow business the best opportunity to manage their businesses through these uncertain times.”