Business owners in Weymouth town centre have hit out after being told their outside seating will be restricted.

Shops, cafés and pubs along St Thomas Street and St Mary Street in Weymouth received their new sitting out licences from Dorset Council last month, which told them that they can only have outside seating between 10.30am and 5.30pm, due to the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in these areas.

Bollards and gates have been installed in St Mary Street and St Thomas Street to enforce the TRO.

The gates will be locked at 10.30am and reopened at 5.30pm each day. Between 5.30pm and 10.30am only taxis and goods vehicles undertaking deliveries or loading can enter the zones.

In 2018, when the licences were last renewed, similar rules were put to the same businesses because of safety fears but the outside seating restrictions were later discarded following some community backlash.

However, this year the curfew for outside seating areas has been reintroduced and business owners are worried about how this will affect them.

Dominique Manasseri, owner of Nicetta cafe on St Mary Street, said: "It's like the council really doesn't want Weymouth to succeed.

"They should be giving us the opportunity to make as much money as we can. Instead, they are doing everything in their power to make sure Weymouth isn't going to survive.

"If customers can't have breakfast sat outside they will go to the harbour or the seafront where there isn't a Road Traffic Order, even though it's more dangerous around there.

"Every high street is suffering and it's not fair that they are driving visitors away. It doesn't make any sense."

Mrs Manasseri said that a compromise had been previously reached where they could not extend the outside seating past a certain point and that there is plenty of room for delivery trucks to drive past.

She added: "We all stay behind the bollards and we know how to manage the tables. We aren't going to put them out so far that we are putting the customers at risk."

"If this happens we won't have enough money to pay the rent and we will all close."

Dennis Spurr, owner of the Fantastic Sausage Factory on St Mary Street, said: "We are a holiday town and sitting outside in the sun adds to that holiday feel

"As long as the traders are thoughtful about it I don't see the problem.

"We have to leave space for emergency services so there's plenty of space, what's the difference between a fire engine and a lorry?"

Claudia Moore, CEO of Weymouth BID, said: "Over the last 12 months Weymouth BID and levy payers have worked hard with the Town Centre Manager and the police to help shape the night-time economy which plays such an important part in Weymouth’s commercial life.

"It is very disappointing to find out through levy payers, that this is being threatened by bureaucracy and red tape. Whilst we will work with all parties in building a better medium-term plan, this threatens the livelihood of businesses now at the busiest trading period.

"We would urge all parties to allow common sense and the reality of what has happened over the last few years to take precedent (i.e. no accidents or incidents). Without a vibrant night-time economy, Weymouth runs the risk of losing out to other seaside locations.”

Richard Lamb, Chairman of Weymouth BID, said: "We have worked very hard to develop the night time economy and gain the Purple Flag to give confidence to visitors and residents that town is a safe place to spend their early evenings. This flies totally in the face of that and will make the town a ghost town after 5.30pm.

Mike Westwood, Dorset Council’s community highway manager, said: “We are looking in to the issue to see what can be done safely and support local businesses. The issue is being discussed with our solicitors and we hope to get in touch with all involved as soon as possible. Ultimately we must ensure that the safety of the highway users is maintained."