Al fresco dining areas in Kensington and Chelsea are being threatened as the local council clamps down on pavement dining.
So far, 20 to 30 businesses have been visited by the council after it decided to become the first borough to act on voluntary guidelines set down by Transport for London (TfL) to make pavements clearer.
Caffé Nero on the Old Brompton Road in South Kensington said council officials arrived without warning and demanded tables and chairs were removed within 15 minutes.
Assistant manager Graziano Merone said. "There was no warning phone call or letter. We just had to ask our customers to leave. Now business is going down because it's summer and it's hot and people want to sit outside. None of the local caf‚s and restaurants are happy about the situation."
But the council defended its position saying it was following TfL guidelines. A spokesman said: "We have a duty to make sure that caf‚s and restaurants don't obstruct the pavement, which can be a problem at this time of year with the good weather."
However, TfL distanced itself from Kensington and Chelsea council's decision, saying it had offered voluntary guidelines three years ago to ensure good access along pavements. "However, we recognise that streets and pavements have a wide range of important functions, including accommodating al fresco dining," it added.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 19 August 2004