A truck driver says he has been threatened with heavy fines and police involvement after feeding the homeless during coronavirus.
For the last few years, truck driver Matt Pyne has held an outdoor food kitchen at Queens Square in Wrexham, Wales every Wednesday, feeding the homeless with the help of donations from local citizens. Now, Wrexham Council officials have instructed him to stop due to coronavirus, threatening him with fines and police involvement.
However, Pyne claims that he has never had more than 18 people come up to grab food at one time, leaving him within the 30-person-maximum gathering restrictions put in place due to coronavirus.
“I have been doing this for three years,” he said to North Wales Live.
“I get donations to give homeless people food and I use Queens Square because it is a public location with CCTV cameras which offers security for the people we help. I give out about 20-30 meals.”
“However,” he continued, “a lady came out from the council and told me I could be liable for a fine and that the police could get involved, because of Covid rules. The most we have had is between a maximum of 15-18 people at any one time, so I am within the law.”
Since then, the Wrexham Council has issued this statement one the matter:
“…There should therefore be no requirement for people to have to access food on the street which can be a risk to the spread of virus. Food or the facilities to prepare food is and continues to be available for all our supported residents [homeless people] should they require it where they are placed. Wrexham Council recognizes and appreciates the help and assistance of volunteers but has respectfully requested that all volunteers cease this activity and contact Avow to discuss how they can participate in the new strategy going forward.”
Since then, the police have issued a statement, saying that they have not received “evidence to support a prosecution of this nature”.
Still, Pyne says he is frustrated.
“Covid rules are not going to put food in these people’s mouths.”