A care group is asking why Bromley Council is still charging a food bank full rent when it has no means to raise funds.
Bromley’s Community Care Protection Group (CCPG) has amassed over 1,000 signatures in its latest campaign and will hand a petition to the authority at a full council meeting on Monday July 21.
The distribution centre in question, a Bromley Borough Food Bank site in Cotmandene Crescent, St Paul’s Cray, has an annual rent of £8,400.
CCPG’s Sue Sulis, 69, is bemused at why the council will not allow a ‘peppercorn rate’ to ease the strain on the charity’s resources.
She told News Shopper: “We want the council to remove the barriers – they are charging commercial rates.
“I just don’t understand why they can’t show some compassion. The food bank just can’t afford it.”
Food bank project manager Mary Beckingham, 58, says the other centres in Penge, Anerley, and Bromley operate from churches for free, but there are no suitable premises large enough to do the same in St Paul’s Cray.
She explained: “The group is fighting for us. We’re seeing more people all the time and we’re totally dependent on churches – it’s a fragile situation.
“Money donated is just going back to Bromley Council, when it could be used to help those in need.”
At a meeting in April CCPG says it was told in 2013/14 Bromley Council was given a welfare fund grant from the government of £819,535, reportedly under spent by over £377,000.
The organisation and food bank staff are now asking why, with money to spare, a greater sense of “moral duty” is not applied.
A council spokesperson said: “The Bromley Welfare Fund is designed to directly support extremely vulnerable residents on low incomes and is not intended for groups.
"We are supportive of this charity’s aims as we have been from the very start and we are continuing to work with them.
"We have supported the food bank for three years with rent free premises which was always understood to be a temporary arrangement.
"A tenancy agreement is now in place, rent is being paid and we consider this matter closed.”
Last year Bromley Borough Foodbank fed 3,293 adults and 2,907 children.