Council defends soup kitchen eviction bid ahead of High Court decision (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Council defends Walthamstow soup kitchen eviction bid ahead of High Court decision
A soup kitchen should move after 20 years because it is regularly used by disruptive street drinkers, according to police and Waltham Forest Council.
Volunteers and supporters of the Christian Kitchen are at the High Court today to find out if they will be granted a judicial review of a decision to evict the charity from Mission Grove car park in Walthamstow.
The council has said it agrees that the majority of the 50 vulnerable people who rely on the kitchen for free food every night are law-abiding, but says the kitchen has become a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour.
A spokeswoman said: "We do not think that it is right that local residents should be made to feel unsafe.
"We have consistently offered an alternative site since discussions with the Soup Kitchen began and that offer remains open."
The alternative site is a council-owned plot in Walthamstow Avenue, off Billet Road Roundabout.
But the charity's chairman, Norman Coe, argues it will be difficult to reach for the people who need the kitchen most.
Police say residents and businesses in and around High Street, Walthamstow, regularly complain about street drinkers in the no-alcohol zone.
They say they have identified 15 “core” offenders who are responsible for offences including, violence against a person, theft and breaches of drinking banning orders.'
Andreas Christodoulou, 34 of Shortlands Road, Leyton, is a fomer volunteer at the soup kitchen and he believes the council and police are ignoring an important issue.
He said: "We saved people's lives, without a doubt. It is absolutely disgusting, and atrocious what the council are seeking to do.
"Wouldn't it make more sense to close the hundreds of chicken shops instead of targeting a charity offering healthy hot food?
"If they're worried out anti-social behaviour, deal with the root problem, homelessness, and put up a shelter.”
The High Court decision is expected after 4pm today.