PICTURES: Protests against John Penrose voting not to extend free school meals project
- Credit: Archant
Protesters gathered today (Tuesday) in response to the Government’s refusal to extend the free school meal policy beyond the half-term holidays.
Weston’s MP John Penrose voted against a motion on October 21 to extend free school meals to schoolchildren. The motion was defeated by a majority of 61 with 322 votes to 261.
Protesters left empty plates outside Mr Penrose’s Conservative Club office, in Alexandra Parade, on Tuesday as a symbolic message to draw further attention to the need to end food poverty and food was also donated to Weston Foodbank.
Event organiser Chris Meyer said: “The protest was to highlight the poor decision made by John Penrose and the government in not extending the free school meals programme. There was such strong feeling about this as the government is failing our kids, today.
“John Penrose is right to want to find a better long-term solution, but those kids are going hungry this week, not in the future, this was very much an ideological vote.
“The protest was about raising this point and supporting the campaign to #EndChildFoodPoverty, those that joined the protest also collected and delivered to a nearby collection point about 15 bags full of tinned food for the foodbank.
“We were so very proud that where, we believe, our MP has let people down, the community instead stood up and made sure they were counted and provided food for those in need.”
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Deputy leader of the council, Mike Bell, condemned Mr Penrose’s vote.
He said: “I think it is utterly shameful that John Penrose voted to support the government and not offer support to low-income families with school meal vouchers over the holidays.
“What sense of priority does it show that the government can find billions for private sector contractors to run a failing test and trace system, but not the support for hard-pressed families to feed their children?
“Mr Penrose supported providing free school meals support during the lockdown. He supported free school meals during the summer holidays.
“Yet now, as we are facing more Covid restrictions and a winter of financial pressure, it is not deemed necessary. It is morally wrong and a completely illogical policy position. He should hanh his head in shame.”