Trucker who feeds homeless 'threatened with fine and police' for breaching coronavirus rules

A trucker who feeds the homeless on a town square claims he has been threatened with a heavy fine and police involvement because of coronavirus restrictions. Matt Pyne has been holding an outdoor food kitchen every Wednesday on Queens Square, Wrexham, where he gives homeless people food from local donations. However recently Wrexham Council officials have told him to stop.

They say councils have been directed to get rough sleepers off the street into accommodation and Mr Pyne’s actions could risk spreading the virus.

Food and drink being prepared to be handed out to rough sleepers on Queen’s Square, Wrexham

However Mr Pyne, a truck driver from Flint, in Flintshire, says he has never had more than 18 people at any one time coming to get food and which is within the law where 30 people are allowed to gather outdoors after some coronavirus restrictions were relaxed. He said: “I have been doing this for three years. 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 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 is a maximum of 15-18 people at any one time, so I am within the law.

“Covid rules are not going to put food in these people’s mouths.”

Trucker who feeds homeless 'threatened with fine and police' for breaching coronavirus rulesQueen’s Square Wrexham

Wrexham Council’s lead member for housing, Cllr David Griffiths, said: “During the Covid 19 pandemic Welsh Government  directed all councils to ensure that vulnerable rough sleepers are able to leave the streets and be placed into supported self-contained accommodation.

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“Wrexham has worked in partnership with all its recognised providers  to ensure that this has happened and that vulnerable people are supported  by a multi-agency approach. “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 should they require it where they are placed. 

“Wrexham Council recognises  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. “We extend an invitation for any volunteer group who may be concerned or want to assist to please get in touch.” A North Wales Police spokeswoman said it was a council issue and they not received a report of a Covid breach or “evidence to support a prosecution of this nature”.

The Welsh Government has recently announced tougher measures, to come into effect on Monday, including the mandatory wearing of face masks indoors, with some exceptions.

There will also be a new limit of six people  introduced on the numbers who can meet indoors at any one time.

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