COUNCIL bosses shelved a plan to ban a soup kitchen from a public park but did not tell the charity that runs it. Further details have emerged about a council report which recommended using "all available bylaws" to force the soup kitchen out of Queen's Gardens. The report was drawn up in September following concerns raised by Borough Commander David Musker of Croydon Police. He argued that antisocial behaviour caused by people using the kitchen was diverting police resources away from where they were needed. Following the Advertiser's story on the proposed ban last Friday, the council said its leadership team had decided, at a meeting on November 11, not to use legal action to move the soup kitchen. Today it released an email sent the day after the meeting by the report's author Tony Brooks, the director of public safety, who said the decision had been taken to "start off with a measured approach". Jad Adams, chairman of Nightwatch, the charity which operates the kitchen, was given the chance to respond to the report when it was first written. Since then he has repeatedly asked the council about what was happening. He has still not been informed of the council's decision. The Advertiser has seen emails between Mr Adams and Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, who was present at the leadership meeting. Mr Adams' emails make specific reference to the legal action recommended in the report but, at no point in his replies, the latest of which was sent last Friday (November 29), does Cllr Hoar inform him that the threat had been dropped. Speaking to the Advertiser today, Mr Adams said: "I have not yet been told that the proposal has been withdrawn and the council has had many opportunities to tell me. "I have been speaking to people and emailing people about it and I understand now only from the Croydon Advertiser story that the proposal to use legal action us has been withdrawn. "I know it has – they wouldn't dare do it now – but I haven't been officially told." Cllr Hoar, however, said he informed Mr Adams during a phone call on November 22. He said: "Either he didn't understand me or I didn't get my message across clearly enough." Mr Adams replied: "If Mr Hoar tried to tell me this when we spoke [on Friday 22] his efforts were unsuccessful, that was why I wrote him an email that day criticising the report." Mark Watson, Labour's spokesman for crime and public protection said Nightwatch had been treated "terribly". He said: "The report was produced in September and Jad has been trying to get an answer from them ever since. He was getting very frustrated. "He's been trying to get an answer from them behind the scenes, so I think it's a bit odd that they drop it as soon as the story is in the press. "What they are saying is that they made a decision but didn't tell him, even though he's been pestering them for an answer. I'm not convinced. "Why would you do that? It's a controversial decision, you know people are going to be worried about it, you then change your mind, but don't tell anyone about it. What was it going to be, a Christmas surprise? "I think it's a terrible way to treat the charity."
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