Kent

Tunbridge Wells Soup Bowl to close after disturbances

A Kent soup kitchen on a council site is to close because of disturbances caused by the people who use it.

Tunbridge Wells council has given notice to the Soup Bowl saying the site is no longer suitable.

The local authority said more people were visiting the shelter, people were gathering on the street, and police had been called on several occasions.

The council said it was working with local churches to find a new home for the operation.

The Soup Bowl, in Crescent Road, was set up by volunteers from St Augustine's Catholic Church 24 years ago and is supported by other churches in the town.

Smoking law change

It currently operates from a Victorian terraced house offering soup and sandwiches for an hour each day to the homeless and people in need.

Councillor David Jukes said: "The decision to ask the Soup Bowl to vacate the property was taken after much discussion."

He said the council had to ensure the safety of people using council properties and others people being intimidated.

Father Peter Stodart, parish priest of St Augustine's, said volunteers understood the council's concerns.

He said: "The gathering of people on the narrow pavement outside has been an increasing problem since the law restricting smoking inside was introduced.

"We will make every effort to find a way of continuing to provide this important service."

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