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New threat to soup runs

September 26 2009
Housing Justice slams the proposed ban on soup runs which comes before Parliament in November The 10th London Local Authorities Bill, which London Councils will deposit in Parliament on 27th November, proposes banning soup runs. If the bill becomes law, it will be illegal for soup runs to give out free food. Westminster City Council will formally propose the bill, on behalf of the 33 boroughs that make up London Councils. Alongside proposed measures to counter the mess from chewing gum on our pavements, the document states, "free refreshments and food are regularly distributed on public land, particularly by organisations wishing to assist the homeless. The unfettered distribution of free food and refreshments causes nuisance to occupiers of premises, often residential premises, in the vicinity of such land." Their proposed solution? "To prohibit the distribution of free refreshments on land designated by a London borough council. It would also be an offence to cause another person to distribute such refreshments. To be designated, land would have to be in the open air, and open to public access." It further says that "unlawful distribution of free food would be an offence, and would be liable on summary conviction to a fine." Of course, this is not yet before Parliament, and still in the consultation stage. There will certainly be opposition, not least from the Soup Run Forum. Alastair Murray, of Unleash, chair of the Soup Run Forum, told The Pavement: "This is an attack upon concerned citizens working to befriend lonely, homeless and marginalised people." "I'm surprised at Westminster [City Council]," he added, "as I felt we had, through the Soup Run Forum, entered a more productive phase." "The fact is, there simply aren't enough places for homeless and socially isolated people to go for food and company, especially in the evening." The proposed bill can be viewed at the London Council's website.
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