THE manager of a pub reportedly blighted by a nearby soup kitchen has said it should be moved out of the area. The Spread Eagle was named in a council report which recommended using "all available bylaws" to ban the soup run from Queen's Gardens opposite Taberner House. The ban has since been shelved but manager Robin Butler believes the soup kitchen, which gives food and drink to the homeless and poor, should be relocated. He told the Advertiser that some of those using the service were harassing his customers and, echoing Croydon's police commander, he were not "genuinely in need". "The soup kitchen is attracting drunks to the area," he said. "We have a seating section outside and have tried putting nice things out there to make it more attractive, but it all gets stolen. Afterwards you can go up to Queen's Gardens and find everything. "It's been a lot better recently but we did have a lot of problems during the summer." The potential ban, proposed in an unpublished council report drawn up in September, said the Spread Eagle is "great affected by the presence of what has been termed a soup kitchen". "The customers of the public house, users of the gardens and pedestrians nearby have complained about the behaviour of those using the soup kitchen," it added. Last week Borough Commander David Musker said the soup run was being used by people who wanted to save money to spend on alcohol. Mr Butler agreed: "I think the idea of a soup kitchen is very good, but it's not here to provide a place for drunks to meet up and fight. "For some it's an important service but it's also attracting the wrong people as well. "In the summer we had people outside eating meals. The drunks worked out that if they could annoy people sitting outside they would leave and they could grab all the food off their plates. They were also begging off people who were outside." Nightwatch, the charity which runs the soup kitchen, which has been in Queen's Gardens for 37 years, denies the antisocial behaviour is connected to the service. "We could tell it was people from the soup kitchen because there was this line of polystyrene cups leading up there," said Mr Butler. "There was an incident about a year ago where a couple of drunks started a fire outside the town hall to keep themselves warm. "One of the had a mobile phone and was calling other drunks to come and join them. That's what they do. They say: 'We've found a spot, come here'. That type of person is not genuinely in need." "I think it's a nice idea but Queen's Gardens is not the correct place for it." When asked what his solution would be, Mr Butler said: "It's a difficult question because if you move it the problems would be pushed somewhere else. "However, something has to change. Queen's Gardens is not a safe place to go at night because of the street drinkers. "You shouldn't be having places in the town centre where you don't go because it's not safe." For now, however, the soup kitchen will stay where it is after the council decided to "start off with a measured approach". It has not ruled out returning to the threat of legal action if the perceived problems continue.
More Pages to Explore .....