Waltham Forest Council eviction bid failed to take into account impact on vulnerable people, judge rules.

Supporters of the soup kitchen last year.

Supporters of the soup kitchen last year.

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A High Court judge has ruled Waltham Forest Council acted unlawfully and failed “to accord with reality” in trying to evict a soup kitchen for vulnerable homeless people after 25 years.

Christian Kitchen was last year told it must leave Mission Grove in Walthamstow due to claims of anti-social behaviour.

It was offered a new site in a lay-by near the Crooked Billet roundabout – a location kitchen organisers claimed was unsafe and unsuitable.

But the kitchen can continue to operate from Mission Grove after today’s High Court ruling by Judge Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler, who found the council had failed to consider the potential negative impact on service users and ordered it to review its plans.

Norman Coe, chairman of the trustees of Christian Kitchen, said: “We are delighted with the ruling today which has essentially saved the service from closure.

“We are now just looking forward to concentrating on providing hot meals to our users rather than the distractions of fighting to save the service.”

He said trustees now hope the authority will work with them to find a satisfactory solution.

Explaining her decision Justice Simler said: “The council should have considered the likely impact of its decision on the vulnerable users of the soup kitchen on the basis that the soup kitchen would close rather than on the wholly unrealistic basis that they would suffer little or no detriment because the soup kitchen could relocate to the lay-by at Crooked Billet.

She added that it was unlikely those people would be able to access public transport to access the alternative site, which Christian Kitchen says is up to 50 minutes away.

The council’s insistence that there was no evidence to suggest the relocation would affect users’ ability to access the kitchen “fails to accord with reality or common sense”, she said.

Alex Rook, a lawyer from Irwin Mitchell who represented the charity pro-bono, said the judgement proved Christian Kitchen’s longstanding argument that the council failed to regard the needs of vulnerable users.

The cost to the taxpayer of the attempted eviction is not yet known, the authority claims, as it is subject to an assessment process.

The council has been contacted for comment.

Comments (18)

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11:48am Mon 7 Apr 14

Howard Wolowitz says...

I am vulnerable and the Council have been ignoring my needs.

Maybe they will build the soup kitchen into the new Morrissons?
I am vulnerable and the Council have been ignoring my needs. Maybe they will build the soup kitchen into the new Morrissons? Howard Wolowitz
  • Score: -22

12:21pm Mon 7 Apr 14

stickmanny says...

Howard Wolowitz has the luxury of making unfunny jokes like this. I guess everything must be ok after all.
Howard Wolowitz has the luxury of making unfunny jokes like this. I guess everything must be ok after all. stickmanny
  • Score: 10

12:51pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Sam Hain says...

"The council has been contacted for comment". I assume Cllr Liaquat Ali is contactable by email in Azad Jammu and Kashmir?
"The council has been contacted for comment". I assume Cllr Liaquat Ali is contactable by email in Azad Jammu and Kashmir? Sam Hain
  • Score: 18

12:52pm Mon 7 Apr 14

NTiratsoo says...

'fails to accord with reality or common sense' - that could be this Council's epitaph.

Perhaps Mr. Esom and Mr. Fenwick will now tell us how much this decision (and their resounding defeat) has cost us, the taxpayer?
'fails to accord with reality or common sense' - that could be this Council's epitaph. Perhaps Mr. Esom and Mr. Fenwick will now tell us how much this decision (and their resounding defeat) has cost us, the taxpayer? NTiratsoo
  • Score: 13

1:48pm Mon 7 Apr 14

NDevoto says...

stickmanny wrote:
Howard Wolowitz has the luxury of making unfunny jokes like this. I guess everything must be ok after all.
Another Cornbeefur sock puppet. He's not very good at it .
[quote][p][bold]stickmanny[/bold] wrote: Howard Wolowitz has the luxury of making unfunny jokes like this. I guess everything must be ok after all.[/p][/quote]Another Cornbeefur sock puppet. He's not very good at it . NDevoto
  • Score: 9

2:13pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Sam Hain says...

Now we have this unequivocal judgement perhaps we can move on - for the sake of those vulnerable people using the service. It seems to me that there now needs to be some compromise on both sides, and some meaningful dialogue rather than 'megaphone diplomacy'. The council needs to accept that the Christian Kitchen's continued location in this carpark is now a fait-accompli and work with them in co-ordinating a multi-agency approach. If the Christian Kitchen only wants to provide food (which is, after all, it's avowed mission) then there's absolutely nothing stopping the council co-ordinating such services in its own carpark. But, by the same token, the Christian Kitchen needs to accept reasonable restrictions, such as that they do not (as they have in the past) position their vehicle on the High Street istelf, and that they monitor street drinking as this is an Alcohol Restriction Zone (AZR) and other ASB such as urination and defecation (maybe the council can provide Portaloos as there are no longer any public toilets?). The High Street SNT must also now be much more vigilant and reactive in light of this outcome, with regulat (though not intrusive) patrols. Nor should residents feel awkward or mean-spirited about complaining to them if legitimate problems arise as a result of the Christian Kitchen's operation, as has happened in the past and almost certainly will do in the future. But, looking forward positively, the clarity we now have means that we can hopefully have a fresh start, without antagonism and negativity, with all sides working in partnership - as it should have been from the beginning to avoid this unedifying public spat.
Now we have this unequivocal judgement perhaps we can move on - for the sake of those vulnerable people using the service. It seems to me that there now needs to be some compromise on both sides, and some meaningful dialogue rather than 'megaphone diplomacy'. The council needs to accept that the Christian Kitchen's continued location in this carpark is now a fait-accompli and work with them in co-ordinating a multi-agency approach. If the Christian Kitchen only wants to provide food (which is, after all, it's avowed mission) then there's absolutely nothing stopping the council co-ordinating such services in its own carpark. But, by the same token, the Christian Kitchen needs to accept reasonable restrictions, such as that they do not (as they have in the past) position their vehicle on the High Street istelf, and that they monitor street drinking as this is an Alcohol Restriction Zone (AZR) and other ASB such as urination and defecation (maybe the council can provide Portaloos as there are no longer any public toilets?). The High Street SNT must also now be much more vigilant and reactive in light of this outcome, with regulat (though not intrusive) patrols. Nor should residents feel awkward or mean-spirited about complaining to them if legitimate problems arise as a result of the Christian Kitchen's operation, as has happened in the past and almost certainly will do in the future. But, looking forward positively, the clarity we now have means that we can hopefully have a fresh start, without antagonism and negativity, with all sides working in partnership - as it should have been from the beginning to avoid this unedifying public spat. Sam Hain
  • Score: 15

2:32pm Mon 7 Apr 14

NTiratsoo says...

Thats all sensible stuff, Sam, but we should also be told exactly why the Council made such elementary mistakes in its original decision-making process, and who was responsible.

And thats because as taxpayers, this saga has cost us dear.
Thats all sensible stuff, Sam, but we should also be told exactly why the Council made such elementary mistakes in its original decision-making process, and who was responsible. And thats because as taxpayers, this saga has cost us dear. NTiratsoo
  • Score: 21

3:24pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Howard Wolowitz says...

The Christian soup kitchen set themselves up to help the needy hungry and vulnerable, how do you think this equates with being responsible for monitoring street drinking. Almost by default they are one and the same but to think it becomes their responsibility is perverse.
The Christian soup kitchen set themselves up to help the needy hungry and vulnerable, how do you think this equates with being responsible for monitoring street drinking. Almost by default they are one and the same but to think it becomes their responsibility is perverse. Howard Wolowitz
  • Score: -13

3:43pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Villagecranberry says...

Sam Hain wrote:
"The council has been contacted for comment". I assume Cllr Liaquat Ali is contactable by email in Azad Jammu and Kashmir?
The Mayor in his robes and bib is ready for a bit of bib and tucker whenever and wherever it is available but he is probably peeled of at the moment down to his 8XL boxer shorts walking along the promenade in Kashmir with his chain of office burning his hairy chest looking like Medallion Man.
[quote][p][bold]Sam Hain[/bold] wrote: "The council has been contacted for comment". I assume Cllr Liaquat Ali is contactable by email in Azad Jammu and Kashmir?[/p][/quote]The Mayor in his robes and bib is ready for a bit of bib and tucker whenever and wherever it is available but he is probably peeled of at the moment down to his 8XL boxer shorts walking along the promenade in Kashmir with his chain of office burning his hairy chest looking like Medallion Man. Villagecranberry
  • Score: -12

4:45pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Villagecranberry says...

Like a broth of fresh air for the campaigners.
Like a broth of fresh air for the campaigners. Villagecranberry
  • Score: -8

5:37pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Sam Hain says...

Howard Wolowitz wrote:
The Christian soup kitchen set themselves up to help the needy hungry and vulnerable, how do you think this equates with being responsible for monitoring street drinking. Almost by default they are one and the same but to think it becomes their responsibility is perverse.
Not responsible, just mindful of the impact of their operations on their neighbours, as good Christians surely should always be.
[quote][p][bold]Howard Wolowitz[/bold] wrote: The Christian soup kitchen set themselves up to help the needy hungry and vulnerable, how do you think this equates with being responsible for monitoring street drinking. Almost by default they are one and the same but to think it becomes their responsibility is perverse.[/p][/quote]Not responsible, just mindful of the impact of their operations on their neighbours, as good Christians surely should always be. Sam Hain
  • Score: 11

5:42pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Howard Wolowitz says...

NIMBYism at its best.
NIMBYism at its best. Howard Wolowitz
  • Score: -10

5:47pm Mon 7 Apr 14

NTiratsoo says...

From the judgment:

‘What the Council failed to do however, having recognised and identified a potentially affected vulnerable group, is follow its own guidance requiring that “negative impacts must be fully and frankly identified so the decision-maker can fully consider their impact” so that the impact assessment is “evidence based and accurate”. It failed to identify in clear and unambiguous terms, the most likely adverse impact this vulnerable group might face as a consequence of the decision proposed; and failed to engage with mitigating measures to address that impact, by failing to engage with the very real prospect that the soup kitchen would close altogether because Christian Kitchen would not move to the alternative site offered if forced to leave Mission Grove’.

It is so typical of this Council, which huffs and puffs about diversity and equal opportunity at every turn, that it should so flagrantly forget to follow its own rules.
From the judgment: ‘What the Council failed to do however, having recognised and identified a potentially affected vulnerable group, is follow its own guidance requiring that “negative impacts must be fully and frankly identified so the decision-maker can fully consider their impact” so that the impact assessment is “evidence based and accurate”. It failed to identify in clear and unambiguous terms, the most likely adverse impact this vulnerable group might face as a consequence of the decision proposed; and failed to engage with mitigating measures to address that impact, by failing to engage with the very real prospect that the soup kitchen would close altogether because Christian Kitchen would not move to the alternative site offered if forced to leave Mission Grove’. It is so typical of this Council, which huffs and puffs about diversity and equal opportunity at every turn, that it should so flagrantly forget to follow its own rules. NTiratsoo
  • Score: 11

6:39pm Mon 7 Apr 14

James O'Rourke says...

Inevitably, Party politicians, with the elections only weeks away, will be clambering to take the credit.
Well, you didn't achieve this victory... the COMMUNITY did!!!
High Street Labour Councillors, both members of Cabinet, should hold their heads in shame - even if one of them is currently in Kashmir.
The time is ripe for TRUE community activists to have a voice in our Town Hall.
Let us all Renew Waltham Forest - www.renewwalthamfore
st.co.uk
http://wp.me/p46x6H-
1Z
Inevitably, Party politicians, with the elections only weeks away, will be clambering to take the credit. Well, you didn't achieve this victory... the COMMUNITY did!!! High Street Labour Councillors, both members of Cabinet, should hold their heads in shame - even if one of them is currently in Kashmir. The time is ripe for TRUE community activists to have a voice in our Town Hall. Let us all Renew Waltham Forest - www.renewwalthamfore st.co.uk http://wp.me/p46x6H- 1Z James O'Rourke
  • Score: 5

7:26pm Mon 7 Apr 14

mdj says...

'we should also be told exactly why the Council made such elementary mistakes in its original decision-making process, and who was responsible.'

I don't think the bookies are accepting odds on the Council's statement on this outcome - assuming we get one - not being 'anonymous'!
When the flak comes in, they all run and hide, like sulky children.

But I think we can recall who was making all the noise when things seemed to be going the Council's way.
Somebody whose record of bending the law to big up his career has repeatedly brought this Borough into disrepute.
'we should also be told exactly why the Council made such elementary mistakes in its original decision-making process, and who was responsible.' I don't think the bookies are accepting odds on the Council's statement on this outcome - assuming we get one - not being 'anonymous'! When the flak comes in, they all run and hide, like sulky children. But I think we can recall who was making all the noise when things seemed to be going the Council's way. Somebody whose record of bending the law to big up his career has repeatedly brought this Borough into disrepute. mdj
  • Score: 10

11:27pm Mon 7 Apr 14

Sam Hain says...

Howard Wolowitz wrote:
NIMBYism at its best.
Obscurantism at its worst!
[quote][p][bold]Howard Wolowitz[/bold] wrote: NIMBYism at its best.[/p][/quote]Obscurantism at its worst! Sam Hain
  • Score: 10

11:25am Tue 8 Apr 14

VillageIdiot69 says...

Brilliant news for the kitchen, got to love the comments from Justice Simler:-

“The council should have considered the likely impact of its decision on the vulnerable users of the soup kitchen on the basis that the soup kitchen would close rather than on the wholly unrealistic basis that they would suffer little or no detriment because the soup kitchen could relocate to the lay-by at Crooked Billet."

"Unlikely those people would be able to access public transport to access the alternative site, which Christian Kitchen says is up to 50 minutes away."

“fails to accord with reality or common sense”

Basically, you haven't got a clue what you are doing.
Brilliant news for the kitchen, got to love the comments from Justice Simler:- “The council should have considered the likely impact of its decision on the vulnerable users of the soup kitchen on the basis that the soup kitchen would close rather than on the wholly unrealistic basis that they would suffer little or no detriment because the soup kitchen could relocate to the lay-by at Crooked Billet." "Unlikely those people would be able to access public transport to access the alternative site, which Christian Kitchen says is up to 50 minutes away." “fails to accord with reality or common sense” Basically, you haven't got a clue what you are doing. VillageIdiot69
  • Score: 11

2:01pm Wed 9 Apr 14

LaurainLeyton says...

Councillor on Westminster Council trying to remove soup kitchens from parts of their Borough "London’s soup kitchens provide vital support to many of our most vulnerable people and it would have been completely unacceptable for this measure to have been passed."

Same Councillor on Christian Kitchen " soup kitchens are not a solution"

Same Councillor again on Christian Kitchen "The principle of the service isn't the issue here it is the location."

With that level of confusion it's no wonder the Council lost the court case....
Councillor on Westminster Council trying to remove soup kitchens from parts of their Borough "London’s soup kitchens provide vital support to many of our most vulnerable people and it would have been completely unacceptable for this measure to have been passed." Same Councillor on Christian Kitchen " soup kitchens are not a solution" Same Councillor again on Christian Kitchen "The principle of the service isn't the issue here it is the location." With that level of confusion it's no wonder the Council lost the court case.... LaurainLeyton
  • Score: 5

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