ISKCON devotee giving out free meal outside of London University`s South Asian Studies building
A new bye-law being discussed by Westminster Council could see the end of the Hare Krishna delivering free food on University of London campuses.
The Hare Krishna, who are regularly outside SOAS and the LSE handing out free food, would be committing a criminal act under the new bye-law which will, “prevent rough sleeping and the distribution of free refreshment”, according to the proposal letter.
A spokesperson from Food For All, the group behind the Hare Krishna’s service on campuses, said: “There are plenty of businesses around the LSE and SOAS that would like to see us close for business reasons.”
The Conservative Council, one of the richest in the United Kingdom, claim the measures are intended to protect local residents as well as businesses.
Many of University of London’s colleges are outside the boundaries of Westminster but it is thought that if passed by Westminster Council it would set a precedent that other councils would soon follow.
As well as outlawing soup kitchens, the proposals would prevent companies like Pret A Manger from distributing their unsold food to the homeless, which they have been doing for years.
The proposals have met with strong resistance from different sections of society, including volunteers, church representatives, homelessness charities and rough sleepers. Alastair Murray, deputy director of homelessness charity Housing Justice, said the new law would, “effectively criminalise compassion”.
He said: “I would be quite happy to be arrested for buying someone a cup of tea. There will be a long queue of people being arrested for buying a cup of tea. If that is what Westminster wants then bring it on.”