Norwich City Council changes mind on soup kitchen stall removal following public backlash

People queuing for food at the larger stall on Hay Hill, which needs repairs according to Norwich Ci

People queuing for food at the larger stall on Hay Hill, which needs repairs according to Norwich City Council. Photo: People's Picnic - Credit: Archant

Norwich City Council has made a U-turn on proposals to remove a market stall used to provide free food to vulnerable people.

The council was met with a fierce backlash after announcing the stall on Hay Hill, off Haymarket, had to be 'permanently removed' due to its age and condition.

The unit is currently used by four different organisations every night of the week in Norwich to serve vulnerable people with food.

More than 37,000 people signed a petition demanding for it to be kept in place.

The city council said it has since 'resurveyed' the stall and has agreed to carry out - and pay for - the necessary repair work.

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In a statement, it said the decision followed a meeting with the groups which use the stall in the evenings.

A council spokesman said: 'The survey showed that it is repairable, but will need extensive work to bring it back into use in the immediate future which will include replacing the existing roof.

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'We don't yet know how much the repairs will cost, but the council will be meeting the full cost of repairs. The repairs will start as soon as we have agreed temporary arrangements for the food groups while the stall is being mended.'

The council said it will ensure the soup kitchen and other groups will have a 'temporary solution' for serving food from Hay Hill while the repairs are carried out.

'It is still in discussion exactly what this will be,' the spokesman added.

Karen Cully, founder of the People's Picnic, which provides a soup kitchen service from the stall, welcomed the announcement, adding: 'They knew exactly what would have happened if they didn't change their mind. The Haymarket would have been occupied.'

She said while she was pleased the stall would remain in place, she was disappointed the council had shown little interest in the group's proposal for its day-time use.

'We put proposals forward that the stall could be used by the community and charity organisations during the day, but they weren't very interested,' she said. 'We would have spent money fixing it to their specifications.'

The council previously said that the day-time trader was due to leave at the end of January.

A spokesman said: 'We are still in discussion about how the stall will be used during the day.'

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