Legal Action Over Waltham Forest Soup Kitchen Eviction

Lawyers Say Council Decision Is Unlawful And Demand Meeting To Discuss More Suitable Location


By Dave Grimshaw

Waltham Forest Council is facing legal action unless it agrees to re-consult with town centre soup kitchen organisers over plans to move them to a new out-of-town location.

Three users of the Christian Kitchen at Mission Grove have instructed specialist public lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have written to the Council informing them that if they don’t meet with the organisers of the soup kitchen to discuss a potential new site and a solution is found, they will have no choice but to seek an urgent Judicial Review of the decision to move them next week.

Waltham Forest Council has ordered the Christian Kitchen group to leave its current home next Thursday (28 March) and has offered the use of a car park at the Holiday Inn hotel in Chingford which is 40-50 minutes walk out of town.

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 around 60 hot meals per night but volunteers fear it would be forced to close if the move took place.

Alex Rook, a public law expert at Irwin Mitchell representing people who use the soup kitchen on a regular basis, said: “The soup kitchen is a vital charitable service for the homeless and vulnerable people in the area. My clients believe that the council has not properly consulted with either the organisers of the Christian Kitchen, or the users of the service. They have not provided any suitable evidence which shows how the soup kitchen is responsible for anti-social behaviour. In fact a Freedom of Information request proves that the Council has had no direct complaints about the soup kitchen in the past 12 months.

“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. Its seems strange to force people who can’t afford a hot meal to have to spend money taking a bus or two to get to a meal provided by a charity.

“If the council doesn’t agree to meet with Christian Kitchen and the people who use the service to hear their views and to discuss potential new sites and reach an adequate solution, then we will have no option but to issue court proceedings to seek a Judicial Review to stop the re-location.”

Irwin Mitchell is arguing that:

  • the Council has not carried out a lawful consultation;
  • moving the kitchen to the proposed new site would breach the user’s human rights, under British human rights law;
  • the Council has failed to consider the impact on women, the disabled and older people, breaching the Equality Act 2010; 
  • the Council is not acting in line with its legal obligations as a Landlord.

Theresa Blake, a 48-year-old, is currently homeless and has been using the kitchen every night for around the last 10 years.  The kitchen usually provides the only hot meal she has in the day, and she is extremely concerned that her health would suffer without the food she receives.

She said: “I suffer from arthritis in my legs and I can walk only short distances so I’m very concerned that if the kitchen was to move to somewhere out of town I just wouldn’t be able to go as I can’t afford the bus fare.

“Some of the people I know at the soup kitchen are very old and vulnerable people who all live close by but would really struggle if it moved to Crooked Billet.”

Alex added: “Our clients as well as the volunteers who run the service have told us that they would actually worry about safety if the kitchen was to move. It is presently in a well lit and relatively heavily populated area and there are worries that the proposed location would be much darker and remote and could be intimidating for a woman on her own or other vulnerable homeless people.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Administrative and Public Law.