A care group is set to hand Bromley Council a petition to call for the authority to show a “moral duty” to residents struggling to eat.

The borough’s Community Care Protection Group (CCPC) is planning to get signatures outside Walnuts Shopping Centre on Saturday (March 22).

CCPC members attended a council meeting last month asking for a food bank in St Paul’s Cray with a commercial rent of £8,400 be reduced to a “peppercorn rate”.

In December News Shopper reported the council said the Cotmandene Crescent facility has to pay full price from January, despite it relying solely on donations and operating without an income.

CCPC also said councillors have no records of how many people rely on handouts to survive, questioning the apparent lack of desire to help “alleviate food poverty” evident in the borough.

Secretary Sue Sulis said while she understands Bromley Council has no legal responsibility to help finance food banks, like others across the country she feels more could be done and “barriers removed”.

The 68-year-old, of St Mary Cray, said: “Surely the council has a moral duty to help the poorest and most vulnerable here?

“I’m aghast – we know they don’t have to but it’s a question of ensuring peoples’ health and wellbeing.

“This is a serious issue. People are going hungry.”

The council reportedly said at February’s meeting research suggests that more than 500,000 households are likely to be using food banks by 2016 – but it has not researched local demand.

However, an “increase in the number of people being referred to or advising about food banks” has been noted.

Councillor Graham Arthur, executive councillor for resources, said: “We have supported the Food Bank from the very beginning and provided three years of support with rent free premises and remain supportive of the aims of this charity and the many other charities that also do good work across the borough. 

"The original arrangements were never intended to be permanent but gave the charity the time it needed to get on a more secure financial footing. 

"The Food Bank has chosen to stay on in these premises and they have agreed to the terms of a lease in the same way as with any other charity or business. 

"Unlike some Councils, Bromley has also set up the Welfare Fund to directly support extremely vulnerable residents following the Government’s abolition of the Discretionary Social Fund, enabling people to purchase their own essential supplies, including food. 

"In addition we work with a range of charities and voluntary organisations including food banks, providing a range of advice and support."