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Tunnel of Light Christmas event in Norwich sparks complaints from volunteers who help the homeless

PUBLISHED: 09:26 09 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:34 09 November 2016

The soup run on Hayhill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich.  PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The soup run on Hayhill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2010

It is hoped a controversy over the placement of a Christmas lights spectacular set for Norwich city centre can be solved, when organisers and volunteers meet later this week.

The soup run on Hayhill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY
The soup run on Hayhill giving warm food to homeless people in Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Norwich Tunnel of Light, which is due to be open on Hay Hill from November 17 - January 5, boasts on the event Facebook page as having “over 50,000 pulsating LED beams of light”.

It is said these “will come to life to create a spectacular display of mesmerising colours and patterns of the Northern Lights.”

But organisers Norwich BID came under criticism from those who provide food and drink for the homeless on the same site.

They said the 45m long, 4m high and 6m wide tunnel would make it difficult for them to set up their stalls and serve food.

Posting on the event Facebook page Rebecca Chipperfield, who runs the Norwich Soup Movement, said: “I’m sure this will be really pretty, but whereabouts on Haymarket will it be? Because there are four soup kitchen groups that serve food to 60-70 people every night on Haymarket.

“We are all voluntary and we all cook and transport things ourselves. Nobody has contacted us about this - we park on Haymarket and need to do this due to amount of things that we need for service. Has anybody thought of this?”

Comments then poured in from concerned residents and volunteers alike, with many pointing out the irony that Christmas time was a time to look after the needy.

Stefan Gurney, Norwich BID Executive Director, said he had already spoken with the Salvation Army, Big Issue, St Peter Mancroft Church and businesses, and was planning to meet with others.

“The confusion was we followed the correct process,” he said. “We approached everyone we were aware of.”

Mr Gurney said they had understood that as part of the planning process for the event, all those affected would be notified, but as the stalls were not official tenants this had not been done.

“We’re trying to set up a meeting with them and make sure it works as well as possible for everyone.”

He added that since they became aware of the problem, via the event Facebook page, they had been working to find a solution.

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