Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Round One victory for Christian Kitchen

May 11 2014
Soup kitchen wins a legal victory in battle against eviction from Walthmstow town centre

A soup kitchen serving hot meals to homeless people has won a legal victory in a long-running battle against eviction from a town centre site in Walthamstow, east London.

A High Court judge ruled that the Christian Kitchen can remain in its current location rather than moving to an out-of-town lay-by as ordered by Waltham Forest Council because the council’s decision did not take into account the likely negative impact on vulnerable service users.

Judge Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler accepted the argument made by organisers of the Christian Kitchen that the new site proposed by the council, on a busy road some 40 minutes away, was so unsuitable for a soup kitchen that it would in effect lead to the closure of the service.

The judge agreed that it was unlikely that service users would be able to use public transport to get to the new site, and added that the council’s position there is was no evidence to suggest that the relocation would affect users ability to access the soup kitchen “fails to accord with reality or common sense:”.

The service will now be able to continue feeding more than 80 people a night at the site it has used for the last 25 years until any further consultations or reviews are made, despite the council’s claims that it attracts antisocial behaviour and crime to the centre of town.

Alex Rook, a lawyer who represented the charity, said: “As austerity bites and the demand for the soup kitchen rises, the last thing the vulnerable homeless people in this region need is to be asked to ‘move along’ to another part of the road network which is difficult for them to access and they believe to be unsafe.”

Deputy council leader Clyde Loakes 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 antisocial 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.