“In Bairro Alto, there is currently an unsustainable situation caused by the distortions of so-called Zero Licensing”, said citizen Domingues Alvim, referring that this law “establishes a presumption of legality in terms of the entertainment and catering establishments that it places in total disadvantage to the residents”.
This resident was speaking at a decentralised public meeting of the Lisbon City Council, for the hearing of residents of the parishes of Santa Maria Maior, Santo António, São Vicente, and Misericórdia, in which the concern with the Zero Licensing law was shared by other Lisbon residents, as well as problems with depositing and collecting rubbish, security, parking and pedestrian accessibility.
Domingues Alvim said that the entities do not supervise the establishments and referred that for more than a year, "unsuccessfully", he has been denouncing two situations that violate his rights as a resident, namely the opening of a restaurant in the building that works without conduct for the evacuation of smoke and gases and a nightlife establishment that presents itself to the authorities as a tea house, “but in reality it is dedicated to the exhibition of pornographic shows, proposes varied sexual practices and includes a sex shop”.
In response to the citizen, the councillor for Urbanism, Joana Almeida (independently elected by the "Novos Tempos" coalition - PSD/CDS-PP/MPT/PPM/Aliança), said that these two establishments "are in an illegal situation", indicating that the chamber has already carried out several inspections and the first step is to notify the owners to restore legality.
“The second step is to subpoena, if you do not comply, and the third step is to report to the Public Ministry”, said Joana Almeida, explaining that the chamber does not have the competence to close the establishments, who has that power is the Food Safety Authority and Economics (ASAE).
The Councillor for the Economy, Diogo Moura (CDS-PP), agreed that “Zero Licensing has brought a pernicious effect to what economic activities are in the city”, arguing that it is necessary to change the legal framework, for which it is available to present proposals to the Government.
“Without an amendment to this law, more and more bars will open, more and more of these establishments, and control by the Lisbon City Council, because this depends on mere prior communication, is very difficult”, highlighted Diogo Moura, indicating that in the parishes of the historic center of Lisbon, there are “spaces that open with eight or 10 square metres, have only one beer pump and sell to people on the street”, which brings noise problems and affects the right to rest of the citizens.
The councillor for Urbanism considered that these situations of illegality are “a totally regrettable reality” and difficult to respond to, because the council tries to notify, but the owner “does not show up, then changes his name, there are a series of strategies here that lead to these notifications for the restoration of legality end up slipping in time”.
The mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas (PSD), reinforced that it is the ASAE that is responsible for closing establishments, but supports the struggle of residents: “Have no doubt that I, as mayor, want to close these establishments and that I will do everything to close them, now I have to have instruments for that”.
“Zero Licensing, really, is a catastrophe for the city councils, for the parishes, so I, as mayor, can speak with the Government and say that it is not correct”, declared Carlos Moedas.