Another Parking Fine for Hare Krishna Charity Food Run
BY: JAMIE WELHAM
Oct 14, 2010 LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (WEST END EXTRA) Council accused of targeting van that feeds homeless.
Parking Wardens have been accused of waging a campaign against homeless people after claims that a van that gives food handouts was ticketed for the fifth time in two months. The Food for All Hare Krishna van has been a fixture in Camden for more than 25 years, serving free vegetarian food to the area's homeless community at sites in Kentish Town, Camden Town and King's Cross at lunchtime every day.
Charity manager Peter O'Grady says that after years of being welcomed by authorities, he feels complaints by neighbours have spurred parking chiefs into targeting its van.
He warned the van, which serves on average 800 people a day, may be forced to move away from the borough if they continue to be stung with expensive tickets.
Camden Council denies taking an anti-homeless stance, saying that on the only recorded incident it has, in York Way on September 22, the van was illegally parked in a bus lane.
It also stressed that the other tickets have not been enforced by themselves, saying records show that apart from the September ticket, council wardens have not ticketed the van since 2007.
The council confirmed there had been a number of complaints from residents around York Way about the van obstructing a bus stand.
Mr O'Grady said: "We've traditionally had a very good relationship with Camden. We've been doing this for so long and have never had a problem.
"We've had a spate of tickets in the last three months, and I can't help but feel we are being unfairly targeted, especially given what we do. The warden comes every single day.
"Recently we moved our day centre to Islington [from Royal College Street], because the council there is more supportive and gives us less hassle. It is really important that we are able to do what we do without interference because this is a vital lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in the area."
The van stands for an hour at each site. The meals are cooked at the Hare Krishna temple in Watford before being driven into central London.
In neighbouring Westminster, the issue of soup runs has been contentious, with the council claiming outdoor food distribution does more harm than good because it draws former rough sleepers out of hostels back onto the streets.
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