Charity seeks judicial review of council decision to move soup kitchen

Waltham Forest Council told Christian Kitchen to move to a different location after reports of anti-social behaviour

Christian Kitchen
Christian Kitchen

A charity that runs a soup kitchen in north-east London has applied for a judicial review after the local council told it to move.

Christian Kitchen has run a soup kitchen from a van in the Mission Grove car park in Walthamstow for the past 20 years. But in February this year Waltham Forest Council gave the charity six weeks to move its location.

The council said it had offered the charity an alternative location, but the charity said it was unsuitable.

Norman Coe, chair of Christian Kitchen, said that the charity sought legal advice after the council’s decision. Earlier this month, with the help of solicitors, the charity filed papers in the High Court applying for a judicial review of the council’s plans to move the soup kitchen.

The council said police information showed that a number of soup kitchen users had been arrested for offences including violence against others, theft and drunkenness, and that the soup kitchen had become a "magnet" for people wanting to cause trouble.

Coe said that although it was possible the soup kitchen was used by people involved in anti-social behaviour, it did not allow anti-social behaviour in its vicinity. "Our ruling is that we don’t allow any bad behaviour," he said. "We don’t allow alcohol, drugs or that kind of abuse. If that were to happen, we would pack up and go.

"We would say that because we are feeding people that are hungry, that has to have a positive effect rather than a negative effect."

Coe said the charity had rejected the new location because it was unsafe. "It’s on a lay-by on a main road with buses coming round the corner," he said. "If we’d moved there it is likely there would have been a fatality."

He said the new location, which is almost two miles away from the soup kitchen’s existing location, was also too far away for some of the kitchen’s users.

The charity is now waiting to be given a date for the hearing. "The papers have been sent, which means we don’t move location until that’s all sorted out," Coe said.

In a statement, Clyde Loakes, deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: "The council has been involved in discussions with Christian Kitchen since November, outlining its reasons for withdrawing the use of Mission Grove car park based on the information provided by the police.

"The council appreciates that the vast majority of the people who use the soup kitchen are law-abiding, but the current site has sadly become a magnet for some people who want to cause trouble, and we do not think that it is right that local residents should be made to feel unsafe."

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