Margaret River traders will benefit from a trial relaxation of al fresco dining laws after the shire’s peak business group and Advocacy WA petitioned the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River. Shire sustainable economy officer Saul Cresswell revealed the good news last week that the local government would take a “hands off” approach to traders utilising their street frontage to boost business and help activate the town centre. “We’re looking at a range of approaches to support community aspirations for vibrant townsites, and having a more open approach to al fresco and street activation is part of that,” Mr Cresswell said. “Margaret River’s upgraded street is really coming into itself, and we’re excited to launch this trial as a response to traders who want to come out from within their premises onto the footpath. “We hope to see some more colour and vibrancy appearing on the street over the upcoming summer months.” The Times previously reported frustration among some businesses that they felt hampered in their ability to use the widened footpaths produced by the Shire’s upgrade of the main street. Disability access concerns were a key driver of the previous approach, but the Times understands feedback from Advocacy WA highlighted other ways all people could benefit from uptake of the al fresco options promoted to traders prior to the redevelopment. Margaret River Business Network chief executive Annie McFie said it was “fantastic” to see the trial run introduced. “MRBN have been advocating for a more relaxed approach to al fresco and retail in the main street for some time now,” she said. “It’s a really positive outcome for our businesses and the community and will bring vibrancy to our new street scape. “The ‘relaxed’ approach is a result of consultation with MRBN main street members, advice from Advocacy WA, and collaboration between the MRBN and the Shire.” Mr Cresswell said the trial would run until April 1 next year. The move would not only free up restaurants and cafes to take advantage of the summer sunshine, but retailers were also free to extend their displays with just a simple permit required. In a statement provided to the Times, the Shire said footpaths “can be arranged in a way to suit the business”. “While our previous guidelines recommended activities to occur on the kerbside, we’re easing these constraints for the trial period,” the Shire statement said. A public forum will be held on Monday, November 13, at the Shire offices from 5pm to discuss the relaxation and address any questions from the business community. The news coincided with the Shire council’s review of the local government’s food trucks policy, which previously put some businesses offside when it was suggested the new festival precinct could host mobile vendors. That consideration was withdrawn from the item that went before members on Wednesday night.