Council chiefs have agreed to meet the owners of an Armley cafe at the heart of a row over a ‘kindness wall’ later this week.
As reported on Saturday, Leeds City Council officials have written to pay as you feel cafe Armley Junktion threatening the owners with a fine up to £1,000 if their ‘kindness wall’ isn’t removed.
They claim it is an ‘obstruction’ on the pavement and say it ‘could cause injury to pedestrians or disabled persons’.
The wall allows local residents to donate unwanted clothes, books and toys etc for those who may need them.
An online petition to save the ‘kindness wall’ has generated more than 650 signatures since Friday afternoon, and a huge outcry on social media.
Today a council spokeswoman said in a press statement:
“We very much appreciate what the team at the café are doing with the kindness wall.
“We’re meeting with the team as soon as possible so we can find a practical and sensible solution for the donations to continue in a way that avoids potential obstructions in the street.
“As always, our approach is to work with people and we hope that everyone will work with us to ensure we’re all meeting our duty of care.”
Betty Doll, a co-director at Armley Junktion, welcomed the Thursday afternoon meeting with council officers – but was defiant that the wall must stay. She told The Dispatch:
“We hope they understand they’re taking this wall away from the people of Armley, not us, as it’s something which belongs to the community. If they take it away they’re going to harm the local community, we’re just providing a service.
“We don’t want to remove the wall – it sticks as far out as a lamppost and isn’t a danger.”
Ms Doll, who said the cafe had received the support of the local Armley councillors, said the hundreds of people who had signed the petition showed that ‘the public had spoken’ on the issue.
The Dispatch will follow up the meeting on Thursday. We’ve asked the Armley councillors to comment on this issue and we’ll update this post when they respond.
Meanwhile, Armley resident Phil Kirby expressed his frustration on the issue in a tongue-in-cheek post over on the Culture Vulture site:
“How exactly does Armley Junk-tion think a bloke like me could manoeuvre around this? It must jut out a whole nine inches into the street and leaves a mere eight or nine feet of clear highway to play with. I’m not a bloody ballerina you know. Do they have no consideration for others?”
Armley Junktion is the world’s first ‘Pay as you feel’ café sourced entirely by intercepted food which is destined for waste. It provides the intercepted food for customers who can pay and/or contribute according to what their means will allow.
UPDATED Tuesday, April 26: Armley councillor Alison Lowe (Labour) said the council officer in question had made a mistake but should not be criticised for it as he did a ‘fantastic’ job in the area. She said:
“I’m really proud Adam Smith chose Armley first two and half years ago. I’m very supportive of what he’s done and very supportive of the kindness wall – everywhere in Leeds should have one.
“There have been one or two issues with it but if the cafe can maintain it it should stay there.”
The full list of candidates standing at the May 5 election is David Caldwell (UKIP), Christine Glover (Lib Dem), Alison Lowe (Lab), Shane Morgan (Conservative),
David Smith (Green).