23 October 2020
BCP Green Councillor Chris Rigby has today written to the Conservative leadership of BCP Council, urging that local action is taken on the question of half-term support for children who receive free school meals.
Chris Rigby, who was also Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Christchurch in 2017 and 2019, says: "Earlier today I wrote to Drew Mellor, Leader of BCP Council, and Mike White, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People.
"I wrote to ask they urgently look at how we can support children who receive free school dinners throughout half term.
"As of yet I have had no response.
"Following my email Vikki Slade has informed me that there are approximately 5000 children in BCP who currently receive free school dinners.
"I await a response to hear of any action being taken."
Simon Bull, BCP's other Green councillor and Parliamentary candidate for Bournemouth West in 2017 and 2019, has also spoken out against the vote by Conservative MPs to deny free school meals. Those MPs who voted against include Conor Burns (Bournemouth West), Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East), Robert Syms (Poole) and Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset & North Poole).
Simon said: "Tory MPs (including Conor Burns) have voted to block plans to extend free school meals over the holidays for the most vulnerable children in society.
"I find this inexplicable.
"The Food Foundation tell us that more than 1.4 million children experience food insecurity during the holidays. 6.3% of children are worried about going hungry during the impending October half-term."
The full text of Cllr Chris Rigby's email to Cllr Drew Mellor was as follows:
Dear Mike and Drew,
Sorry for how short this message is, I'm writing it on my phone between meetings.
Can I please ask that you urgently look at how BCP council would be able to fund free school dinners to those children entitled to them, during half term.
I would also request that you look at an extension of this to cover all school holidays until Easter 2021.
I believe now more than ever with extended pressures on families and individuals due to the pandemic people are in need of support. Regardless of the parents situation I'm sure you can agree that no child should go hungry, and that as a forward thinking council BCP council should recognise this and step in to offer support where our Government has failed.
I know as well as all us councillors the financial pressures we are facing, but some things are more important, and ensuring our residents are not going to go hungry is one.
I write this following the news that Liverpool Council will be supporting the 20,000 children who need it in their area. If they can, we should be doing the same.
Cllr Chris Rigby
Green Party Councillor Winton East