Waltham Forest Council is adamant that a soup kitchen must move after the volunteers behind it issued court papers seeking a judicial review against its eviction.
The Christian Kitchen group has served hot meals to the borough’s homeless and destitute at its Mission Grove car park in Walthamstow every night for the last 20 years.
But the council has ordered the group to leave, saying the soup kitchen attracts anti-social behaviour and crime, a claim volunteers deny.
Today volunteers behind the soup kitchen ordered lawyers to issue court papers seeking a judicial review, claiming the council has not taken into account the effect a move would have on the people it supports, as many would not be able to reach an alternative proposed site in Chingford.
But Clyde Loakes, deputy leader of the council, said the site made its neighbours feel unsafe.
He said: “The council appreciates that the vast majority of the people who use the soup kitchen are law-abiding, but the current site has sadly become a magnet for some people who want to cause trouble and we do not think that it is right that local residents should be made to feel unsafe”
The authority recently rejected Christian Kitchen’s suggestion that it use the town hall as an alternative site, calling it unpracticable, but the group claims there is nowhere else it could go.
But a council spokesman said: “The council understands Christian Kitchen are also considering other non-council owned sites and respects their right to relocate where they feel is best.
“However, the council is consistent in its view that Mission Grove is no longer a viable option.”
Volunteer Paul Dowling said that despite 32 churches providing volunteers to run the kitchen, none of them could house the service.
He said: “Only half a dozen of them have car parks and they’re all in residential areas which just aren’t suitable. We’ll get complaints, whereas Mission Grove is perfect for our needs.”
Theresa Blake, 55, is homeless and has been using the kitchen every night for around the last 10 years.
She said: “I suffer from arthritis in my legs and I can walk only short distances so I’m very concerned.
“If the kitchen was to move to somewhere out of town I just wouldn’t be able to walk there, and I can’t afford the bus fare.
“Some of the people I know who come to the soup kitchen are very old and vulnerable and would really struggle if it moved out of town.”