Sunny West Yorkshire welcomes cafe society: Leeds plans to make the most of its rain-free summers. Malcolm Pithers reports

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The Independent Online
WINE, coffee and croissants mixed with the morning chatter of the cafe society finally arrived in a relatively rain-free Leeds yesterday.

The city council has just opened its first pavement cafe, Pablo's on the Street, cheered by official figures which show that Leeds is distinctly lacking in summer rainfall.

The meteorological office places Leeds, with 45mm of rain from May to September, ahead of Paris (60mm), Frankfurt (65mm), Brussels (74mm), Milan (83mm) and London (85mm).

The council, promoting the city in its centenary year, has decided to persuade people that sitting at a pavement cafe is perfectly possible in West Yorkshire without the risk of being washed out. Even the Home Office has issued a consultation document calling for more European style cafe bars. Pablo's offers a choice of pain au chocolat, croissants, citron presse, speciality teas and baguettes. It will be the first of many to be opened in Leeds this summer jointly by the council and private caterers.

Yesterday, beneath a grey sky, the first customers mingled with invited guests and, despite occasionally vigorously rubbing their arms, supported the plan.

Jude Kelly, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, said that she regarded pavement cafes added to the jollity of life.

The Leeds Weather Centre said the reason the city enjoys a fairly equable climate during the summer is because the Pennines to the west and the North Sea to the east form a 'rain shadow' which dries out the air.

(Photograph omitted)

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