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Ashton food hub founder speaks out after complaint about ‘unauthorised’ use of new headquarters

Posted on - 17th November, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Charities, Plungington, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment
Chris Murray and Ruby Abram volunteer Director for Here for Humanity at PNE.
Chris Murray pictured with Preston Here For Humanity Director Ruby Abram at PNE

The founder of an Ashton-on-Ribble food hub has spoken out after Preston City Council received a complaint about the alleged unauthorised use of the hub’s new headquarters.

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Chris Murray of Preston Here For Humanity said he had been ‘completely unaware’ of the need to change the Eldon Street building’s use from a business premises to a food hub, and upon finding out had ‘immediately’ applied for retrospective planning permission.

Chris said: “On 28 September I received a letter from Preston City Council informing me that a concern had been expressed about an alleged unauthorised change of use of the premises we have used as a food hub since April this year.

“After checking the paperwork, I established that I had registered the building as a food premises with PCC, had engaged with the Environmental Health Department and received a five star rating, and had registered the building with the rates department.

“At this point I realised that I should have applied for planning permission to change the use from a business premises to a food hub, something I had been completely unaware of. I was naturally horrified at the position the charity found itself in and immediately sought help in applying for planning permission retrospectively.”

Preston Here For Humanity Headquarters in Eldon Street
Preston Here For Humanity Headquarters in Eldon Street

Chris engaged the services of an architect to draw up plans and submit the application at a cost of £1,500. The planning application is now available to view and comment on on the Preston City Council website.

After Chris started cooking for elderly and isolated neighbours during lockdown, he says he saw the desperate need to help people avoid food poverty. With more members of the community getting involved, Chris decided to create a not-for-profit organisation.

Read more: Preston Here for Humanity to host reverse advent calendar for those in need

Since creating the organisation, Chris says the group has been the target of multiple complaints.

He said: “The speed at which Here For Humanity has grown has been both exciting and alarming. None of us are experts in the field but are learning as we go; none of us are paid a wage – that’s hopefully for the future; but all of us are absolutely committed to serving our local community as best we can.

“It is thus incredibly disheartening when people complain about us – and they do. We have been challenged on our Facebook groups as to our honesty and integrity; we have been reported to Environmental Health – who found there was no case to answer; we have been reported to the Regulator Of Community Interest Companies by someone objecting to a Facebook post – the regulator accepted our explanation.

“I don’t know what has motivated these complaints but obviously they are not from people wanting to support our cause and that saddens me immensely.”


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