Councillors are concerned that a growing number of businesses are operating in local parks without paying for the use of public land.
Green councillors Hannah Clare and Phélim Mac Cafferty are bringing up the issue at the next meeting Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday (9 July).
They have written to the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw to raise their concerns that the voluntary licensing scheme for exercise groups in public spaces, introduced in 2014, has been discontinued.
They described a “proliferation” of exercise groups and food and drink businesses using local parks and, in particular, Hove Lawns which is in their electoral ward, Brunswick and Adelaide.
And they called for the scheme to be revived and enforced in recognition that businesses are “depriving the public using publicly owned land”.
They wrote: “This is something we’ve also seen for ourselves, where companies are putting down heavy equipment and driving vehicles on to the grass on Hove Lawns, for example, which is causing further damage to the drought-damaged lawns.
“Some groups have strung exercise ropes from the Hove Lawns railings – and with chunks of the railings falling away, we would question whether this is linked.”
On one evening they spotted four separate groups using different parts of the lawns between the Peace Statue and Adelaide Crescent.
Their letter said: “There is an increase in businesses using open spaces, without providing funds to the council at a time when the city is trying to recover from the pandemic, and access to the outdoors is important for residents.
“While we recognise that in the recovery from the covid-19 pandemic there are competing priorities for the city council, we feel that a modest charge for the use of public land reflects what personal trainers or traders expect when they buy things like highways licences or they hire space in halls.”
As well as reintroducing the scheme, the two councillors want the council to look into making a licence fee mandatory, as it is in London’s Royal Parks.
The Policy and Resource is due to hold a “virtual” meeting from 4pm on Thursday 9 July. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.