Outdoor café culture will be encouraged in Halton to help boost the post-lockdown economy.

The move comes after council bosses met to approve special measures designed to make it easier to apply for a pavement license.

It means that any business which sells food or drink can apply for a licence through a faster, more streamlined process. They will be able to put tables and chairs outside, as well as counters, stalls and other outdoors furniture such as umbrellas and patio heaters.

The council’s ruling executive board approved the new legislation, which will cut waiting times for a decision from a minimum of 28 days to a maximum of five days.

A report to the board said it will provide a boost to businesses and venues which have had less room to cater for customers indoors due to social distancing restrictions.

The report said: “Whilst many hospitality businesses have private outdoor seating areas, many don’t and therefore may need to utilise adjacent public areas, whether on footpaths, pedestrianised streets, parking areas or other amenity spaces.”

The licence will incur a fee of £100 and the new legislation is likely to stay in place until the end of September 2022.

In the meeting, the council’s deputy leader Cllr Dave Thompson, said: “When you think about your experiences of going abroad there is a real culture on the continent of outside eating and drinking.

“Even though we don't always have the best weather, because of the pandemic people are (now) more inclined to be sitting, eating and drinking outside,

“I think it adds some potential vibrancy to our shopping streets and I think it’s a really good move.”

Council leader Cllr Mike Wharton added: “It gives businesses an opportunity in a sector which has really struggled during the pandemic.”