Thousands sign petition in support of Norwich soup kitchen stall
- Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC
Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for a stall which is used as a soup kitchen to be saved.
The future of one of Norwich's two Hay Hill stalls was thrown into doubt earlier this week, when Norwich City Council said it was proposing to 'permanently remove' the larger stall off Haymarket, due to its age and condition.
It is currently used by a trader during the daytime, who is due to leave at the end of January, but in the evenings several different groups use it free-of-charge to distribute food to homeless, elderly and vulnerable people.
The groups involved have now launched a petition against it being torn down, which was signed by more than 12,000 people in less than 24 hours.
While the council said it was 'not asking these organisations to move on, or to close their activities on Hay Hill', a spokesman said: 'We understand the removal of the one stall might cause difficulties for some of the groups, so the council will be donating some tables to help them.'
The People's Picnic is one of the groups affected and volunteers feared the removal of the stall would leave them, and the food, without any protection from the elements and it is offering to pay for the repairs needed.
However, today the council appeared to change tack slightly by saying: 'Both stalls are rented out during the day by paying tenants. Both will shortly become vacant. One of the stalls can continue to be used by food distribution organisations during the night.
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'However, the second stall is now at the end of its life. The current tenant of this stall is leaving so we will review the stall's condition and look again at the cost of repair.
'If the stall can't be repaired we will work with the food organisations concerned to ensure they have a suitable facility so they can continue to work on Hay Hill.
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'We understand this situation has been unsettling for everyone concerned and will be meeting with representatives from the groups that we understand use Hay Hill to find a way forward so they can continue providing their service.'
Annie Boddey, of Action for Greyhounds, said the charity has been renting out the stall on one Saturday a month for the past 18 years.
She said: 'We have built up a massive reputation and lots of support by being in a prime location off the Haymarket where there is lots of footfall.
'They are planning to transfer us to a tiny little market stall where you get hardly any footfall and there is no comparison whatsoever to the current stall.'
She said the charities were keen to find a way for the existing stall to be upgraded to a locked stall with better facilities.