Council red tape means no more marquee outside Exmouth gastropub - without applying for a road closure

PUBLISHED: 17:28 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:19 28 March 2019

George Nightingale outside Spoken on the Strand gardens. Ref exe 17-16SH 2276. Picture: Simon Horn.

George Nightingale outside Spoken on the Strand gardens. Ref exe 17-16SH 2276. Picture: Simon Horn.


Council red tape has prohibited an Exmouth eatery from putting up a marquee on a pedestrian strip outside its premises – because it is still classified as a road.

Spoken, in The Strand, previously set up a marquee adjacent to the main restaurant, which for the last two years hosted a DJ and countdown timer for Exmouth on New Year’s Eve.

Despite setting up the marquee outside at various times throughout the last eight years, the gastropub has been told it is no longer allowed to do so unless owner George Nightingale gives Devon County Council (DCC) three-months’ notice.

After a member of the public complained to DCC, a notice hand-delivered to Mr Nightingale said the marquee had to be removed within 24 hours.

Mr Nightingale said: “The marquee that was put on the side of the bar was done so purely to provide some shelter for customers over the weekend.

“It was not put there for any licensable activities to take place and so no licence from East Devon District Council was sought – although discussed with them.”

Mr Nightingale said the area outside of the bar is still classified as a road, despite its being paved over and used by pedestrians.

He added: “You used to be able to drive around the Strand, and the classification of this road still exists. For those that think ‘well you can’t just do what you like’ – I totally agree.

“But, things have changed in terms of the licensing, and I have been doing exactly this for eight years on an infrequent basis whilst talking to DCC staff, so it was no secret that it happened.”

In order to re-install the marquee outside, Mr Nightingale said he has to write to DCC three months in advance to request closing the road – a task he is not prepared to do.

He added: “This is the last time I will be able to provide people with some extra space and shelter for our events at Spoken. However, I am more determined than ever to be busy, increase trade and increase variety – while keeping within the law.”

A DCC spokesman said: “This area is public highway and the licence issued to Spoken enables the use of tables and chairs on this part of the highway during opening hours, subject to certain conditions.

“The use of a marquee is not covered by this licence and the owner is aware that a separate application is needed.”

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