Every so often a story comes along which blows my mind. This is a case in point.
Giving out soup to the homeless in front of a cathedral. One would think that this is the very epitome of the sort of tolerance on which the UK prides itself. And in front of a place of God, too. That seems appropriate doesn’t it? After all, I recall a few words such as “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “When you give a feast, invite the poor”.
But oh no. Along comes Westminster Council to sweep them all under the carpet:
Soup runs around Westminster Cathedral could be banned in an effort to discourage rough sleeping in the area….A by-law could be in force by October if the Conservative-run council’s plans are backed in a public consultation.
But there’s more. Labour Uncut states:
The proposed new bye-law will make it an offence punishable by a fine to “sleep or lie down”, “deposit materials used as bedding” and to “give out, or permit another to give out, food for free”.
That last bit really gets me. The council propose that it will be an offence to give out food for free. Holy Mackerel! What have we come to? The country of Christian tolerance now getting to the stage of outlawing giving out food for free. As always I try to restrain my language on this blog. I hesitate to say “FFS!” but that is the best expression I can think of, to sum up my horror at this.
I was particularly stunned by these weasel words of explanation from a spokesperson for the council:
About 150 people sleep rough in Westminster on any given night and 98% of those people “have no connection to the borough”, the council said.
…soup runs on the streets in Westminster actually encourage people to sleep rough in central London, with all the dangers that entails.
Roughly translated that means: “Not our problem, guv”.
I think I want to be sick.
Rather pulling the rug from under the feet of Westminster Council, David Coombe of Street Souls, which distributes soup in the area, said
The need is there. We are not seeing the same people all the time, which is a good sign, but there are a few. We set up tables and an orderly line is formed. We take brooms with us, we take bins with us and water to wash down if necessary. We leave the place better than we find it. The plans are incredibly draconian measures they are trying to enforce here. There’s nothing on God’s earth that will stop me doing this.