Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has attacked Westminster Council for what he calls “its attack on charities and voluntary groups who give food to the homeless”.
The council is reported to be behind a bid by London Councils, the umbrella group for London’s 33 local authorities, to include in the London Local Authorities Bill a clause which could see the end of soup kitchens for the homeless.
London Council’s consultation on the London Local Authorities Bill entitled ‘Distribution of free refreshments’ says: “The unfettered distribution of free food and refreshments causes nuisance to occupiers of premises.”
“It is proposed to prohibit the distribution of free refreshments on land designated by a London borough council.”
Speaking to leaders of London’s 33 local authorities this morning, the Mayor said: “It is quite wrong to seek to criminalise the activities of those who run ‘soup kitchens’ and provide much needed assistance to those most in need.”
According to Public Sector news website 24dash.com the clause has also been attacked by charities working with the homeless. The site reports Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter as saying: “Proposing to stop acts of charity and kindness by a legally enforceable ban on soup runs is against the principles of tolerance, freedom and understanding which underpin British society.”
In a statement issued this afternoon Mayor Livingstone said: “We need to support the homeless and those in most need of our help, not make it illegal. Banning ‘soup runs’ from any area of London would hit those in most need of our support.”
“Westminster’s attempt to criminalise the activities of ‘soup kitchens’ is wrong and should be abandoned.”