Greggs has been saved from flushing away millions of pounds following a ruling on whether it needed to provide toilets in its stores.
The chain’s toilet future had been in the hands of two arguing local authorities – Hull, which said it needed to have toilets, and Newcastle City Council, Greggs’ home town authority, which said it did not.
The dispute was taken to the Better Regulation Delivery Office, part of the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, which ruled that the chain did not have to provide toilets across it 1,400+ shop estate.
Elizabeth Orde, NCC Primary Authority manager, said: “We argued that Greggs was not a relevant place under the Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976. It hinges on [the venue being] somewhere you sit down to eat your meal and Greggs is predominantly takeaway – customers are not provided with napkins or tableware. It is the customer’s choice to sit and, to us, it is a sandwich shop that happens to provide some seats.”
Councillor Stephen Powers, cabinet member for community safety and regulation, added: “I am delighted that the city council’s guidance that customer toilets should not be required in premises with less than 10 seats has been backed by the Department for Business. I believe this was a victory for common sense and shows that the city council is on the side of business and not in the game of overburdening companies with redtape and bureaucracy.”
A spokesperson for Greggs said: “The Government’s Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO), has upheld the advice from Newcastle City Council given to Greggs over many years about the provision of toilets in its food-on-the-go premises. The Primary Authority arrangement is a way that businesses can get a degree of certainty over the legal parameters within which they must operate, without being subjected to a different legal interpretations and enforcement policies that might be adopted by individual local authorities.”
The dispute stemmed from a routine food hygiene inspection in 2011 in two Greggs’ stores in the Hull area, which found that there were no facilities provided, and Kingston upon Hull City Council logged a complaint to Newcastle City Council (NCC), as it is Greggs’ Primary Authority and in charge of the bakery chain’s health and safety regulation.