Ken Hay says his plans for a soup kitchen in the East St mall will help resolve a “serious problem”.
Ken Hay says his plans for a soup kitchen in the East St mall will help resolve a “serious problem”. Sharyn Oneill

Ken Hay wants to help the homeless

BUSINESSMAN Ken Hay says he will open a soup kitchen in Rockhampton's CBD to solve the problems highlighted by Margaret Strelow's application to run a community cafe.

“I've already started looking for suitable premises,” he said yesterday afternoon.

“The East St mall is the preferred location because it has closed-circuit television cameras that will take care of the security issues.”

Mr Hay insisted he was deadly serious about wanting to deal with the problem of the homeless, riverbank dwellers and those who were dependent on alcohol, drugs or other substances.

“We know Rockhampton has a serious problem that has to be resolved. If there is a soup kitchen in the mall it will bring matters to a head and bring the problem out into the open.

“I will fund it and I will sell Aboriginal art to help offset the costs,” he said.

One of the main objectors to Ms Strelow's proposal for a community cafe in the industrial precinct in Bolsover St, Depot Hill, Mr Hay dropped his bombshell minutes after councillors had debated the former mayor's application.

“I can hardly believe what this council has done. It has committed to spend ratepayers' money on outside consultants to find a way to approve a commercial application.

“How can that be fair? Will it offer that consideration to every other commercial applicant whose proposals contravene the council's own planning scheme? How can it be an independent report when the outcome is pre-determined?

Mr Hay said he was open to discussion with charities and other organisations about the operation of a soup kitchen, but said he did not require financial assistance.

“I won't be doing any more than offering food. There won't be any Bible studies or counselling sessions.

“I think it should be open from 6.30am for 12 hours each day and offer free food to those in need whether they are indigenous or not.”

He said the council's handling of Mrs Strelow's application had forced his hand.



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