Redbridge voluntary group left to face �14k rents after forced relocation

A voluntary group offering one-to-one counselling to vulnerable people in Redbridge must pay thousands of pounds in rent after being forced to relocate by the council.

Qualified social worker Moinul Khalique, 49, has run the Re-Start service from his home in Davids Way, Hainault, since 2007.

It takes referrals of people with mental health issues, depression and substance misuse problems from the Job Centre Plus office in High Road, Seven Kings, and neighbouring boroughs.

The service had to move to Riches Road, Ilford, on April 6 after being served an enforcement notice and told it could face “severe financial implications” by Redbridge Council should it stay.

The group, which is run on a “shoestring” budget according to Mr Khalique, with income solely from offering university placements and volunteers’ contributions, is now faced with a private annual rent of �14,400.

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Mr Khalique, who now lives in Trotwood, Chigwell, said: “There will come a point when it won’t be viable.

“It is absolutely incredulous that our council, instead of funding the work we do as volunteers, is actually driving us away from providing services to the community.”

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Mr Khalique had about six clients a day visiting his Hainault home during work hours.

He said about eight people at a time, including volunteers, would be in his property, part of a block of four flats.

He said: “We decided, because office rental is generally expensive, to have a work-from-home idea.

“The homely warm ambience lent itself to good counselling.”

However, the group failed in a bid to get retrospective planning permission with the council ruling in 2010 that the “activities are considered to generate noise and disturbance”.

Three complaints from neighbours said there were issues with the suitability of the premises.

Fiona Denning, the council’s head of development management, wrote to Mr Khalique on April 19, saying: “I acknowledge the exceptional work that you undertake for less fortunate people. However, such work must take place in an appropriate location.”

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