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Leader of South Ribble Borough Council shares open letter condemning MP’s vote against free school meals

Posted on - 27th October, 2020 - 1:37pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Campaigns, Charities, Health, People, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News, Schools, Uncategorized
School canteen. Pic: Katrina_S Pixabay
School canteen. Pic: Katrina_S Pixabay

Councillor Paul Foster, Leader of South Ribble Borough council has sent an open letter to Katherine Fletcher, the MP for South Ribble.

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In the letter, Cllr Foster condemns MP Katherine Fletcher’s decision to vote against the extension of free school meals throughout October half term.

There has been national uproar with 322 MPs voting against the extension.

Read more: Peppa Pig and friends collect food donations in Ribbleton trolley dash

Many local businesses have instead offered free meals as a replacement.

In the open letter Cllr Foster said: “If you had bothered to contact us prior to your vote, you would have understood that we have a real challenge in South Ribble, with the demand for free school meals increasing significantly over the past 12 months.

“Currently there are 2252 children in receipt of free school meals – yes 2252 children within South Ribble – and we can confidently predict as the Covid19 furlough scheme kicks in and inevitable job losses are realised during the coming days and weeks, this number will sadly, continue to rise.

“Additionally, one of the South Ribble Councillors has in fact resigned from the Conservative Party over the weekend, in what he described as the “disgraceful actions of MPs” in the chamber when they voted against feeding the most vulnerable children in the community.”

Local Preston businesses such as stalls in the Preston Markets, Preston North End and Longridge Hall and Lodge care home are now offering free meals to children throughout half term.

A fancy-dress trolley dash took place in Ribbleton on Monday (26 October) to collect food donations for children in need.

Cllr Foster also mentioned that 52 out of 53 schools within South Ribble are seeking help from the borough council.

Read more: Preston North End offering free meals for city’s vulnerable children and families during half-term

In response to the letter, Katherine Fletcher MP said: “We all want children whose parents are struggling to get help, we just have different views on how best to help. 

“We’ve given Lancashire County Council £1.5million, of £63 million nationally so they can help those most in need.

“We’ve also added £1000 a year to Universal Credit (£20 per week to get extra supplies in) and the fabulous teams in DWP are amazing at wrapping other support around Universal Credit to help families.”

If the vote had been successful, free school meal provision would have been extended until Easter 2021, therefore some are unsure what will happen over the Christmas break.

See foodbanks near you and the items they need by entering your postcode below

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