A decision on whether to provide only stunned halal meat to schools has been delayed again due to the “strength of feeling on both sides of the debate”.Advertisement
Lancashire County Council had last year agreed a proposal not to provide meat, other than poultry, to council establishments unless animals were stunned before they were slaughtered. This decision was prompted by the renewal of the contract to provide non-stunned halal meat.
However, the county council didn’t implement their proposal and subsequently ran a four-week public consultation on the issue in February.
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Following the consultation the county council’s cabinet made a decision in July to provide only stunned halal meat, except poultry, to schools. This was despite the results of the public consultation, which showed that 65% of respondents strongly disagreed with the proposal.
But after further consideration the county council has agreed that a final decision on the matter should be put to a vote at the meeting of Lancashire County Council’s Full Council on 18 October, so all members can consider it.
The decision to debate the issue at Full Council also follows communication with the Lancashire Council of Mosques, and national media coverage of accusations of Islamaphobia and antisemitism.
It will now be up to Full Council to define the county council’s policy on the terms of any new contract to be tendered.
The move means schools who currently opt to be supplied with non-stunned halal meat will continue to be supplied as the new term begins in September.
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County Councillor Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We supply halal meat to a small number of schools where it is served in dishes as one of a number of options able to be chosen by students whose parents have specifically requested it.
“The contract becoming due for renewal gave us the opportunity to consider the animal welfare issues surrounding the supply of unstunned halal meat, and we held a public consultation so that cabinet could consider all the impacts before making their decision.
“Cabinet appropriately considered the report and reached a decision under the council’s procedures, however following recent communication with the Lancashire Council of Mosques we have given further consideration to the strength of feeling on both sides of the debate, and I have asked that council now be asked to take the decision.”
The decision affects the supply of halal meat to 27 schools by the council’s catering service, where there is the demand for it from the Muslim community, and where the headteacher and governing body request this for a proportion of children on the basis of their religious belief.
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