Green Light For Judicial Review In Bid To Save Soup Kitchen

Lawyers Win Permission For Legal Challenge In High Court

15.08.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

Lawyers fighting to save a soup kitchen from closure have won permission to take Waltham Forest Council’s decision to evict them to a full judicial review hearing.

The users and organisers of the Christian Kitchen based at Mission Grove in Walthamstow say the council’s decision to stop their use of the central site and evict them to an unsafe and unsuitable out-of-town site would lead to the closure of the service.

They instructed specialist public lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who issued court proceedings, to seek a Judicial Review of the decision to revoke their licence and move them to a new venue just off the busy North Circular Road approximately 40-50 minutes out of town.

The Christian Kitchen, which features in the recent Ken Loach film “Spirit of 45”, had been threatened with closure from the 22nd of May, but the Council has agreed to let them continue using the current site until the legal action is resolved.

The soup kitchen, a vital service for homeless and vulnerable people, has been run seven days a week for more than 25 years and currently provides between 50-100 hot meals per night, but the volunteers from 30 churches across the region fear it would be forced to close if the move took place.

Alex Rook, a public law expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the charity and people who use the soup kitchen on a regular basis, said: "We are pleased that the judge agrees that there are elements of the decision that need to be considered at a full judicial review hearing.

"The soup kitchen is a vital charitable service for the homeless and vulnerable people in the area and the organisers and users of the service have been left with no choice but to take legal action to stop the move, which they believe would lead to its closure.

"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.

"We believe that the council has not properly assessed the impact that the move would have on vulnerable people, including elderly and disabled people, who simply don’t have enough money to eat properly or travel to a new out of town site. The Council, when assessing the impact of the move, has suggested that the users can get to the out of town site by bus, but if people had money for bus fares they wouldn’t need to use the kitchen in the first place.

“It has been suggested that the kitchen is responsible for anti-social behaviour but a Freedom of Information request proves that the Council has had no direct complaints about the soup kitchen in the last twelve months. Our clients and the charity’s Trustees would welcome moves by the Police that directly address anti-social behaviour.

“There are serious concerns that many of the current users of the service simply won’t be able to get to the proposed new site and that this decision will force the closure of the soup kitchen.

“There is no doubt that the soup kitchen has been a valued service for twenty-five years and it is crucial to the people who visit the kitchen each night.”

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