Video: Soup kitchen ordered to install disabled toilets by city plannners
A SOUP kitchen that is feeding up to 500 people a week has been told it must provide disabled toilets for its clientele.
Twist Soup Kitchen applied to Galway City Council for change of use from a garage or warehouse to a proposed food kitchen outlet last November.
However, the planning authorities have now delayed a decision on the future of the charity project until the owners deal with a number of issues.
Planners wrote to Oliver Williams last week stating that his soup kitchen was the equivalent of a restaurant and setting out five stipulations for the former warehouse.
A letter from the planning authorities stated: "Although described as a kitchen outlet, the premises provides restaurant facilities for its clients."
It called for the provision of a disabled toilet and an adequate number of toilets for the floor size.
Planners also requested information on the ventilation and fume-extraction equipment in the premises, full details on the proposed opening hours and that no signage be illuminated.
Mr Williams described the latest requests as "a shock" and called on the local authority to come to a decision on the future of the soup kitchen.
"We're not a restaurant, we are a soup kitchen feeding those who need it. If they insist we put in a disabled toilet we will do so, but as for ventilation, it's a former warehouse. We have too much ventilation, that's the only problem.
"Food is cooked on site in a certified mobile kitchen and we've provided the planners with the cert," he said.
Mr Williams also criticised the demand that the organisation remove any illumination from signage and remove a sign from a nearby utility pole.
"Galway City Council needs to stop jacking around on this and make a decision. They may dislike us being here but we are providing a vital service. We're feeding 500 people a week. It would be ideal if we weren't needed but the reality is we are," he added.
Mr Williams said he believed the authority did not want to acknowledge the need for a soup kitchen in the city.
"They don't want a soup kitchen in their city. They want us to call it a cafe and we're not going to do that. We are what we are," he said.
Mr Williams said he was receiving a massive amount of support from the local communities.
"We couldn't do this without the goodwill of the communities. Local people are backing what we do and they keep us going," he said.