Westminster City Council has scrapped plans to charge restaurant and bar operators to keep trading outside through the coming months.

City A.M. reported the council was set to charge businesses £7 per square metre of outside space, per day, once the existing ‘al fresco’ scheme comes to an end on October 31.

The plans were met with uproar from restaurants and bars, which have already been badly impacted by the enhanced coronavirus restrictions forced on the capital.

Some businesses said that would have faced a bill of between £50- to £100,000 a year under the plans.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the plans, criticising the “excessive charges” as “short-sighted and counter-productive”.

He urged the council to axe the scheme in order to “keep the centre of London vibrant and open throughout this challenging time.”

The council went on to announce a u-turn on the decision.

Council leader, Rachael Robathan said: “We recognise that restaurants are facing desperate times – that’s 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 Thursday, 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.”