February 28, 2011

Westminster Council may ban soup run

by Jan Harris

Westminster Council has launched a consultation on a plan to stop people sleeping rough in the Victoria area.

The council want to introduce a byelaw that would not only fine rough sleepers but also the charities that hand out free food and drink to them.

It claims the soup run causes littering, violence and other problems for residents and businesses and believes that it is wrong and undignified to feed people on the streets.

It is estimated that 1,600 people sleep rough in Westminster each year, with many of them congregating in Victoria, especially around Westminster Cathedral piazza.

Alison Gelder, Director of Housing Justice, has called the plan an “attack on civil and religious freedoms”, while the Coombe Trust, which provides free food, has pledged to defy the “draconian measures”.

However some charities, including St Mungo’s and Thames Reach, are backing the council, claiming that homeless people are better served by service that support then off the streets, rather than soup runs.

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