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Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 20:09 GMT
Plan to limit soup runs dropped
Homeless people in London
London Councils will set up a group to help tackle homelessness
Plans to ban soup runs for homeless people in parts of London have been dropped following protests.

Last month Westminster City Council suggested councils should be able to restrict soup runs which raise "public order issues" and "disturb" residents.

But on Friday London Councils dropped the plan and said it would instead set up a group to help tackle homelessness.

Charity Housing Justice said the move would have "outlawed our basic human response to help those in need".

On suggesting the move, Westminster City Council said giving homeless people free soup "damages health and life chances".

It said many groups distributed free food in residential areas, disturbing and "impacting" on the local community.

London Councils, which represents the 32 London boroughs and the Corporation of London, dropped the proposal on Friday.

Instead it will set up a cross-party working group to examine what is already being done to tackle homelessness.

"They will look at the funding, powers and best ways to coordinate the support necessary to help London's most vulnerable people back into independent living," a London Councils spokeswoman said.

We remain convinced that action needs be taken to restrict the over-provision of soup runs
Angela Harvey, Westminster City Council cabinet member

The group is expected to report its initial findings in Spring 2008.

On Friday Westminster City Council's cabinet member for housing, Angela Harvey, said it welcomed London Councils' decision.

"Along with many homelessness experts and charities, we remain convinced that action needs be taken to restrict the over-provision of soup runs, which fail to address the complex needs of rough sleepers or help them off the streets so they can be helped back into independent living," she added.

"We are confident the working group will conclude action needs to be taken to restrict the activities of soup runs, so rough sleeping can become a thing of the past."

Housing Justice's soup run forum chair Alastair Murray said he hoped London Councils would involve the charity in its discussions.

"Soup runs are often in touch with the most vulnerable people at the margins of society," Mr Murray said.

"Soup runs are part of the solution to homelessness, not part of the problem."

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