Boris: “Im pro soup”

Boris Johnson declared himself ‘Pro soup’ and against the banning of soup runs for the homeless, during yesterday’s Mayoral Question Time.

 

The comment comes as Westminster councillors consult over a bylaw banning food distribution and rough sleeping around Westminster Cathedral.

 

Defending the bylaw, Assembly Member Kit Malthouse said the ‘militant’ attitude of some organisations meant they were not cooperating with legitimate concerns of residents.

 

Boris said he was in favour of volunteers giving out soup to the homeless, but there were issues with the way food was given out.

 

The London Mayor said: “I don’t want to ban soup runs, provided they are part of a strategy to help people off the streets.

“What I don’t want to see and some homeless charities don’t want to see, is a situation where those who are giving out soup are effectively helping to keep people on the street.

 

“I am pro soup.”

 

Westminster council’s proposed bylaw, would outlaw food distribution in the area and put a blanket ban on rough sleeping around the cathedral from October.

 

The council claims soup run activity maintains a street lifestyle and draws people out of sheltered accommodation and into street culture.

Large groups of rough sleepers, including street drinkers and drug users, have made the piazza around the cathedral a ‘no-go-area’ for Westminster residents according to the council’s strategy.

 

Campaigners say the move will criminalise homelessness, with maximum fines of £500 being dished out in designated Group Dispersal Zones.

 

********* of homeless charity, Broadway, said: “Any strategy to help people off the streets can only be applauded.

 

“But, criminalising some of the most vulnerable people in our society, in situations beyond their control, isn’t the way to go about solving homelessness.

 

“For many rough sleepers a soup kitchen is the only hot meal they receive and the only time they interact with people who genuinely want to help them.”

 

The Conservative ran council aims to eliminate rough sleeping by April 2012, matching Boris

Johnson’s commitment to end entrenched rough sleeping by 2012.

 

The consultation ends on Friday, March 25.

 

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