Many of the opening licences were for bars and restaurants. S.V.
Despite the economic crisis Estepona council granted 298 opening licences for local businesses last year, which was 46 per cent more than the previous year, when 204 licences were issued. Almost half - 139 - were for activities which are classified as 'innocuous', which means those which do not produce any significant disturbance, contravene normal health, hygiene and environmental regulations, cause damage to public or private assets or pose any appreciable risk to the public, explains the councillor for Commerce, José Antonio Vílchez, who also points out that in 2011 licences were issued for 77 businesses of this type.
Many of the licences which were processed in 2012 - almost 40 per cent - were for businesses in the bar and restaurant sector, which José Antonio Vílchez stresses are necessary to bring more life to the main streets of the town centre.
The percentage of permits issued for businesses in this sector was similar to those issued between the summer of 2011 and the summer of 2012, a period when more than 60 bars, cafés and restaurants opened. Early signs were encouraging, as the Town Hall indicated that in the first two months of last year an application for an opening licence was received every two days, creating a total of 32. However, this figure differed considerably from those in the early years of the economic crisis. For example, in 2008 the Town Hall registered almost 50 per cent fewer applications than in the previous year and processed a total of 181 opening licences.
The council considers that the measures it took at the beginning of last year motivated the entrepreneurs, because on January 1st the fee for obtaining an opening licence was withdrawn for more than 30 types of business.
The Association of Business Owners of Estepona points out that some businesses had to close down in 2012 and this should not be forgotten, and others are planning to close now. José Antonio Vílchez agrees, but says that the figures are still the most positive for the past four years. “This important recovery in the business fabric last year is very significant because it shows that Estepona is a town which is once again gaining the confidence of entrepreneurs”, he stresses, adding that the eradication of the cost of the licence saves business owners between 600 and 1,500 euros.
In September the council also applied to the Junta de Andalucía for permission for local shops to open over Christmas, to boost local trade. The municipality is already considered to be a major tourist resort, which allows its shops to open on extra days at Easter and in the summer.