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New crepe stand ready to fight virus closure order

Stall trades for a day despite council demand to close

28 January, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

The stand trading on Sunday after the closure order

A CREPE stand in Hampstead is preparing to fight a coronavirus shutdown order from the council.

La Creperie outside the King William IV pub in Hampstead High Street was still open on Sunday – 48 hours after being ordered to stop trading by Camden on Friday night.

The New Journal understands the council is now investigating the apparent breach, which could lead to an unlimited fine.

The stand opened in November and is supported by the pub’s landlord, Jimmy McGrath. Its location raised eyebrows – and suggestions of a crepe sales war – because it is right next door to the long-standing La Creperie de Hampstead, which has operated from a mobile kitchen on the site for 40 years.

Jimmy McGrath

Both were ordered to close after complaints about queues and social distancing concerns amid the Covid lockdown.

A letter from the council said: “This direction is necessary for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection by coronavirus”.

But Mr McGrath said he would go into battle over the order. “They want to close us down and we want to fight them,” he said.

“We are doing everything right, we’ve got markings in the street, social distancing and marshals.

“We probably shouldn’t have reopened, but we did because my QC got in touch with [the manager] and said we are prepared to fight this in court.”

The stand has since stopped trading. Redouane Ait-Iich, who runs the original crepe stand – whose famous customers have included Kate Moss, Kelly Brook, and One Direction star Harry Styles – did immediately pull the shutters down after the council’s order.

Queues for the crepe stands earlier this month

But he said he was unsure why both businesses had been told to stop trading, when cafés and bakeries in Hampstead continue to stay open with similar queues.

The stall’s manager hopes to reopen in early February, but added the council had not given him a “checklist” of measures he needed to take to ensure he had to enable him to do so.

“Why aren’t they closing other businesses in Hampstead who are as busy? Nobody comes to them to say anything about the queue,” said Mr Ait-Iich.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The large queues coming from both these businesses, together with a lack of social distancing and face coverings being worn, were causing congestion on the pavement and presenting a serious and imminent threat to public health.

“Unfortunately, we had no option but to ask these businesses to stop trading, despite our efforts to work with them to resolve these problems.”

They added: “We have received correspondence from both of the affected businesses and are committed to continuing the dialogue in order to deliver a positive outcome.”

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