Westminster Council has shelved plans to levy businesses serving customers outdoors during the winter months after the government announced additional funding for the hospitality industry last week.
Proposals for businesses to be charged £7 a day per square metre of outdoor space used had been reported by City AM last week. The levy would have been charged after the council's hugely successful al fresco dining scheme came to an end on 31 October.
The free scheme, which had seen streets partly pedestrianised to allow for outdoor dining, has been credited with driving the recovery of restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés across Soho and the wider borough.
Announcing the scrapping of the proposal, councillor Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said: "We want to help our wonderful restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés to provide a safe and enjoyable service over the winter months. Our extensive package of support will help to safeguard jobs and livelihoods within this vital sector of central London's economy. We'd urge hospitality business owners to see what help is available and to get in touch so we can get the support to them they need.
"We recognise that restaurants are facing desperate times, which is why we introduced the summer al fresco dining scheme and have extended it to the winter. In view of additional central government funding, announced on 22 October, we are able to cover costs of the winter scheme so that restaurants and bars can serve customers without any extra cost being charged by the council."