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Hampstead creperie stall fined £1,000 as closure order continues

Owners bemoan lack of similar action against others in Hampstead

29 January, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

La Creperie in Perrin’s Lane

A CREPE stall ordered to shut by Camden Council has been fined £1,000 for breaching a Covid-19 order, but its management has said it wants to “work with” the council to reopen.

La Creperie, which is backed by King William IV landlord Jimmy McGrath and run by manager Tom Jones, was given the fixed penalty notice (FPN) on Monday night.

It stayed open amid last weekend’s snow as Robert Griffiths QC, who is advising Mr McGrath and Mr Jones said a Covid closure notice as a result of queues and people congregating nearby was not valid.

Speaking to the New Journal on Thursday morning, nearly a week after last week’s instruction for La Creperie and its neighbour La Creperie de Hampstead to shut up shop, Mr Griffiths said he believed the order was unlawful.

He said: “As far as we’re concerned, we can’t control whether people leave after they have been served. We have no control over that. The area opposite, outside the art gallery, is one of the most popular places in Hampstead for families and their children to meet. If we told them to move on, what would the reaction be?

“Most people visiting together are families, so social distancing doesn’t apply, or people are in bubbles. Otherwise people are distancing in the queues, the stalls has screens up, it has marshals and the signs up telling people to wear masks and social distancing. There’s not much more we can do if people don’t follow that.”

Mr McGrath, who has previously fought Camden Council in the courts over the Business Improvement District (BID) levy, said it was going to go “over the top” now in Covid-prevention measures. The stall was set up next to the long-standing creperie already in Hampstead High Street in November.

Mr Jones, who runs the stall with his family said it brings in about £1,200 a day each weekend. He said the income is vital for him. “I’m relying on this to pay my rent and feed my children. I don’t know what they expect us to do.”

Mr Griffiths added: “If we comply with the regulations, then we are doing all we can. The idea that we can be closed down because people in the street are congregating or not wearing masks is wrong in law.”

The trio pointed to nearby cafes and bakeries in Hampstead village who have got takeaway service, saying that similar queues and customers are gathering nearby.

“They haven’t got anything like the same measures we have – so why are small traders like us being penalised,” said Mr Griffiths.

The stall was re-erected on Thursday lunchtime in a bid to unsuccessfully demonstrate to council officers that the measures were safe. However, Camden extended the order that night.

“If they genuinely work together on the system we’ve introduced, then that’s fine,” said the barrister. “We’ve always wanted to work together with them. We’ve done a lot of work in terms of setting out our position, in terms of materials, and we’re going to limit the length of the queue.”

A Camden Council spokesperson confirmed the fine, and pointed to Covid-19 legislation in terms of the amount for a first breach.

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