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Soup kitchen in Walthamstow a 'magnet' for trouble says council
A mobile soup kitchen which provides food for the homeless must move because it has become a "magnet" for troublemakers, the council has insisted.
Organisers of the Christian Kitchen spoke of their outrage earlier this week after being informed they were being evicted from their current spot at Mission Grove car park in Walthamstow.
Volunteers at the soup kitchen, which has been providing hot meals seven days a week for more than 20 years, say many will struggle if its location is moved outside of Walthamstow.
Christian Kitchen believes the council wants to move them to "sanitise" the area before work begins on building 121 homes and multiplex cinema at the nearby Arcade Site in April.
A council statement released in response does not directly deny that claim, but said the reason was due to concerns about anti-social behaviour.
Christian Kitchen denies that its van attracts troublemakers, and says such concerns have never been raised before in its 20 year plus history.
The council has proposed the kitchen moves to an area behind the Chingford Holiday Inn in Walthamstow Avenue, but Christian Kitchen says it is isolated and too far from Mission Grove.
A council spokesman said: "We have asked the soup kitchen to move because of on-going safety concerns raised by residents in the area.
"At a meeting on 14 February, Police gave significant detail about anti-social behaviour problems identified.
“We know that the Christian Kitchen feel passionately about their work, that is why we have found them another site which is on a main bus route and in a non-residential part of the borough close to a large supermarket.
"Whilst the vast majority of the people who use the service are law-abiding, 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 when a better non-residential site is available."
He added: “The council is happy to continue to talk to Christian Kitchen. We have agreed that they can have a four-week period to discuss the situation with their trustees and after this they will have a further two weeks for plans to be made to relocate."
Christian Kitchen says it has been given a deadline to move of by March 14.
It is considering legal action and is trying to get support from councillors and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy.
The Guardian is awaiting a comment from Waltham Forest police.
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