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Row over halting free food for rough sleepers in Lincoln’s Inn

Labour councillor says 'lonely' men are abusing service, but rivals say he sounds 'callous'

26 April, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Julian Fulbrook speaking at hustings in Holborn

A LABOUR councillor sparked an angry debate between election candidates in Holborn last night (Wednesday) when he suggested church groups in Lincoln’s Inn Fields should stop handing out free sandwiches to the homeless.

Julian Fulbrook said volunteer-run handouts were no longer solely used by rough sleepers, but also “lonely” men. He told an audience at the Rugby Tavern: “We need a co-ordinated approach to deal with this problem. Go to Lincoln’s Inn Fields now and you will see hundreds of men. They are not rough sleepers but just go there for a free sandwich on offer from the church groups. We’ve been trying to regulate it but it’s difficult. You get a choice of sandwiches, if you don’t like the cheese, maybe the ham.”

He said discarded sandwich boxes then risked an increase in vermin. John Mason for the Green Party told the hustings, organised by the Holborn Voice website, Cllr Fulbrook sounded “callous”. “I just don’t understand how you can sit there from a left-wing perspective and say we shouldn’t feed these people.” He added: “If there is a crowd of 10 there and three haven’t had any food today, I’d rather all 10 of them got a sandwich than none can get a sandwich.”

Conservative candidate Richard Merrin said: “I wouldn’t be sitting saying that the council has to got to have a role, that the council has got to regulate it as if the state is the only arbiter about what is right and what is correct. Absolutely no way, it’s down to the individuals. I’m damn glad that the church is there helping.”

Lib Dem candidate Andrew Naughtie said: “I’m struck by how rough sleepers are usually talked about as a threat. Anti-social behaviour is a serious problem and I don’t want to minimise it, but I find the tone of the way the council talks about the issue is lacking in empathy.”

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