‘It’s scandalous’ - Protestors round on MP over vote against free school meal extension
- Credit: Archant
Protestors took to the steps of their Conservative MP’s constituency office in a demonstration against the government’s “heartlessness” over the free school meal saga.
Great Yarmouth locals placed plates bearing messages of disappointment at the steps of Brandon Lewis’ town centre office on Tuesday morning as they revealed they felt “let down” by the person elected to represent their borough.
One of the plates read: “3,047 children in our borough are entitled to free school meals. You have abandoned them.”
Another said: “You claimed £60,602 in expenses between 2019-2020. How many children could you have fed with that money?”
Charlotte Godden, chair of Norfolk Against Holiday Hunger, was among those to attend. She came with her 19-month-old son, Noah.
“Brandon Lewis is the MP for Great Yarmouth but he hasn’t acted in its interests”, she said.
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“He should be ashamed of himself, because there’s 3000 children in the borough who would have benefitted from the free school meal extension over half term. It’s heartless.
“I’m not expecting a U-turn from Mr Lewis, but as we’ve seen with George Freeman there are Conservative MPs who disagree with the government.”
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Mr Lewis refused to comment, but on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday he defended his position and said the government had increased Universal Credit payments to help those going hungry over half term.
But residents Josie Fitzgerald, Trevor Wright and Sarah Bilyard said Universal Credit had been “decimated” by the government and wasn’t sufficient for families to live on.
Ms Bilyard added: “The money the government is giving to councils doesn’t seem to be ringfenced for holiday hunger specifically. Only some of it will trickle down - and the children will be left hungry.”
Kevin Reynolds, from Unite the Union Yarmouth branch said: “We are fully supportive of this campaign. It’s scandalous in this day and age that caring for our most vulnerable children is in doubt.
“This wouldn’t have even cost that much to put in place compared to everything else the government has spent during the pandemic.”
Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare, who helped organise the demonstration, said: “The number of deprived children in Great Yarmouth is increasing - yet the local MP seems oblivious to this.”