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Photograph: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photos

Greggs loses sausage roll row with Met Police and local council

The cops and local councillors believe that 24-hour opening would fuel crime and disorder in Leicester Square

Written by
Ellie Muir
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When pastry-empire Greggs opened the doors to its new West End flagship on July 18 at 1 Leicester Square, devoted fans queued during the sweltering 40C heatwave to get a (steak) slice of heaven. Since then, the pastry powerhouse has been churning out vegan sausage rolls and steak bakes in their thousands from morning until 11pm, late enough to catch London’s suit-clad punters stumbling home from post-work drinks, in search of a flaky bite for the road. 

Last week, the West End store asked the council for permission to serve its hot food around the clock, 24 hours a day, but  was denied permission by the Metropolitan Police and Westminster City Council, who rallied against the plans, arguing that late-night food will lead to an increase in crime and disorder in the tourist hotspot. 

PC Adam Deweltz wrote to the town hall licensing committee saying that the force believes a late-night licence will add to ‘crime and disorder’ in the world-famous tourist destination. ‘The Metropolitan Police, as a responsible authority, is making a representation against this application,’ he said. 

Local residents have also strongly objected to the 24-hour opening times in a statement to Westminster Council. 

‘I believe that this will encourage intoxicated patrons of this retailer lingering in the vicinity late at night and potentially causing a public nuisance,’ wrote one. ‘The plan does not allow any seating areas for customers to consume their purchases. It is essentially a sausage-roll factory plonked in the middle of the West End.’

While the pastries are sold hot in Greggs, the majority of stock is made at industrial bakeries and then re-heated in store. The company don’t need a licence to sell this type of hot food, but they do need permission from the local authority to sell their other products, such as bacon and breakfast rolls, as well as hot drinks after 11pm. In the committee meeting, the company expressed that it plans to serve its full menu 24-hours a day, but it was again met with opposition.

Greggs said that customers would become ‘confused’ if its full menu was not available after 11pm, and that would potentially cause more trouble. In its submission to Westminster Council’s licensing committee, the company said that customers ‘may become more confused and argumentative or disruptive in store if they are able to access the full range of goods before 11pm but are unable to do so after 11pm’. The company added it would employ body-camera-wearing security guards at the central London location to ensure customer safety throughout the night.

Surely, Greggs have a civic – and quite frankly, moral – duty to serve London’s late-night workers and drunken party animals who roam the streets of Leicester Square in the early hours? Unfortunately for nighttime punters, Greggs has been blocked from opening its flagship store through the night after the council said its plans were 'half-baked'. Well.. at least its pastries aren't. 

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