Residents bid to stop Southend beachside restaurant from keeping outside seats

A petition has been started in a bid to prevent a seafront restaurant being allowed to keep seats which have been outside its business for more than a decade.

Owners of the Ocean Beach restaurant in Eastern Esplanade, Southend have applied for a lawful development certificate for seats which have been outside for years.

No formal permission was originally given so an application has been made to rectify that.

But since the application was submitted a Southend City Council e-petition has been launched to try to stop the process.

The restaurant bought the seats for customers to use when a smoking ban was brought in and they are also regularly used by beachgoers.

The petition urges the council “not grant permission to further extend restaurant onto the beach”.

Owner, Jonathan Bacon, said: “A number of benches were originally placed on the beach when the government first introduced anti-smoking laws in July 2007 prohibiting customers from smoking inside the premises with the agreement of the local authority.

“Again in 2020 we were instructed by the government to take action to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic, with the onus being upon the business to introduce measures of how best to deal with this.

“To comply multiple measures were taken including a number of additional benches, which were placed outside in order that people could sit whilst waiting to enter the premises. Umbrellas were added to offer protection to the people from the sun’s harmful rays and potential skin cancer.”

Mr Bacon added: “Throughout the pandemic these benches were very popular and provided sanctuary for many people. The benches are often used whilst the rest of the beach is empty which proves to us their popularity.

“We do not discriminate who sits on the benches as we appreciate they are not part of our demise and on a public beach, patrons and non-patrons are welcome.

“Indeed they are often used by school groups, dog walkers and people that make purchases from other nearby food outlets (chip shop, news agents, Ice cream parlour) and generally by people who just like to sit and enjoy the tranquillity of the rolling waves.”

No food or drinks are served to people seated on the benches.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter