Waltham Forest Council claims Christian Kitchen soup kitchen is attracting anti-social behaviour and crime to central Walthamstow

Soup kitchen users queuing for the service in Mission Grove, Walthamstow.

Soup kitchen users queuing for the service in Mission Grove, Walthamstow.

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East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Waltham Forest Council has said it will review the findings of a High Court ruling which found it had acted unlawfully in trying to evict a soup kitchen for the homeless.

Earlier today Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler ruled that the Christian Kitchen can remain at its Mission Grove site, despite the council’s claim that anti-social behaviour linked to the service reaches as far back as 2011.

The authority served an eviction notice to the kitchen last year, offering an alternative venue at a lay-by near the Crooked Billet roundabout, but Justice Simler ruled the move unlawful.

She said the council did not properly consider the likely impact the decision would have on the vulnerable people and failed “to accord with reality”.

Deputy council leader, Clyde Loakes, has vowed to work with the charity on a way forward.

He said: “We are disappointed by the judge’s decision but will review the findings and continue to talk with Christian Kitchen to find a way forward for both users of the kitchen and residents nearby.

“The court has recognised our concerns, which are supported by police information, around the anti-social behaviour linked to the soup kitchen, and our focus on ensuring the safety of local people and those raising families in the area still stands.

“We appreciate that the 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.”

The council said it will continue to monitor criminal activity in the area and is able to appeal the decision.

Pointing to a series of convictions and anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), the authority says troublemakers frequent the soup kitchen, including 15 “core street drinkers” to whom 58 arrests since June 2012 can be attributed.

Christian Kitchen organisers said moving the service would have likely resulted in its closure, because the proposed site was unsafe and unsuitable, as well as hard to reach for those who use it.

Just Simler said the council’s position that there was no evidence to suggest the relocation would affect users’ ability to access the kitchen “fails to accord with reality of common sense”.

Comments (5)

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6:44pm Mon 7 Apr 14

James O'Rourke says...

A message to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Robbins.

IF YOU WASTE FURTHER PUBLIC MONEY ON THIS DISCRIMINATIVE POLICY, YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE AT THE BALLOT BOX
A message to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Robbins. IF YOU WASTE FURTHER PUBLIC MONEY ON THIS DISCRIMINATIVE POLICY, YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE AT THE BALLOT BOX James O'Rourke
  • Score: 7

7:42pm Mon 7 Apr 14

mdj says...

'“We are disappointed by the judge’s decision..';
This is what Cllr Loakes said when his petty persecution of a local businesswoman for recycling a cardboard box was thrown out by the Crown Court at Snaresbrook.
Does the expression 'contempt of court' convey any meaning to him?
'“We are disappointed by the judge’s decision..'; This is what Cllr Loakes said when his petty persecution of a local businesswoman for recycling a cardboard box was thrown out by the Crown Court at Snaresbrook. Does the expression 'contempt of court' convey any meaning to him? mdj
  • Score: 11

9:13pm Mon 7 Apr 14

James O'Rourke says...

Apologies for shouty comment. I left Caps lock on!
Apologies for shouty comment. I left Caps lock on! James O'Rourke
  • Score: 3

9:57pm Mon 7 Apr 14

NTiratsoo says...

Spin, spin, and more spin from Cllr. Loakes.

The bottom line is that the Council lost this case because it made elementary mistakes:

‘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’.

So instead of blustering, Cllr Loakes should tell us who is responsible, and how much their lack of competence has cost us the taxpayers.

And meanwhile he should brush up on company law, because an independent inquiry has recently found that that the E11 BID Co. board – of which he was a prominent and vocal member - ‘failed in their duty to maintain proper accounting records and systems’, never submitted VAT returns, and ran up debts to HMRC running into thousands.
Spin, spin, and more spin from Cllr. Loakes. The bottom line is that the Council lost this case because it made elementary mistakes: ‘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’. So instead of blustering, Cllr Loakes should tell us who is responsible, and how much their lack of competence has cost us the taxpayers. And meanwhile he should brush up on company law, because an independent inquiry has recently found that that the E11 BID Co. board – of which he was a prominent and vocal member - ‘failed in their duty to maintain proper accounting records and systems’, never submitted VAT returns, and ran up debts to HMRC running into thousands. NTiratsoo
  • Score: 15

2:32pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Don't Give Up says...

As I fully agree with the comments made by NTiratsoo, it would make a welcome change if either a councillor or someone in authority working for the council and on behalf of WF residents could respond in a sensible way. Of course, those individuals who are/were responsible should be held accountable and face the relevant consequences both in relation to the closure of the soup kitchen and the E11 BID Co.
As I fully agree with the comments made by NTiratsoo, it would make a welcome change if either a councillor or someone in authority working for the council and on behalf of WF residents could respond in a sensible way. Of course, those individuals who are/were responsible should be held accountable and face the relevant consequences both in relation to the closure of the soup kitchen and the E11 BID Co. Don't Give Up
  • Score: 3

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