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No plans to remove market stalls used to feed people in need says councillor, days after claiming otherwise

PUBLISHED: 18:30 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:47 28 June 2018

The People's Picnic giving food to those in need on Norwich Haymarket. Photo: Nick Butcher

The People's Picnic giving food to those in need on Norwich Haymarket. Photo: Nick Butcher

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The city council says there are no plans to shut two market stalls used to feed people in need - just days after touting their eventual closure.

Salvation Army volunteers serving soup and sandwiches at the Haymarket in Norwich Photo: Denise BradleySalvation Army volunteers serving soup and sandwiches at the Haymarket in Norwich Photo: Denise Bradley

In a response to a question from fellow Labour city councillor Hugo Malik, cabinet member for rough sleeping Kevin Maguire spoke about the possible closure of the two stalls in the Haymarket area.

However, Mr Maguire has today insisted there are no plans to remove the stalls, which are used by, among others, The Salvation Army and The Peoples’ Picnic to provide warm meals for homeless and vulnerable people.

He said: “The council has recently invested in repairing both stalls on Hay Hill so they can continue to be used by food groups for as long as they’re needed, and there are no plans to remove them.

“In the long term, we are also working with partners to look at the options for indoor provision, housing advice and joined up support.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for safe city environment. Picture: Norwich Labour GroupKevin Maguire, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for safe city environment. Picture: Norwich Labour Group

“What I would like to see is no one having to sleep rough, but with a backdrop of government austerity this is difficult to achieve.”

However, his original response to Mr Malik said: “In order to address the issues on Haymarket and the eventual removal of the two market stalls once the new service provision becomes available, the council have commissioned the Feed to develop an evidence base of why people are using the food provision to inform alternative provision.”

The two stalls became a contentious issue earlier this year after their removal was first touted, which saw a petition against the move signed by more than 40,000 people.

In a post on its Facebook page, a spokesman for the Peoples’ Picnic said: “It saddens us that despite smashing it with a petition containing the backing of over 44,500 signatures from the public, it appears a decision has been made to ignore the democratic proceedings and move forward with plans to eventually demolish the stalls in favour of a council approved indoor provision.”

It came after Mr Maguire said the current outdoor food provision, while well meaning, perpetuated “issues of dependency”, not allowing rough sleepers to move on, something denied by the groups.

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email edpletters@archant.co.uk

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