Appeals to Sutton and Croydon to join Rashford campaign

The leaders of LibDem-run Sutton and Labour-controlled Croydon have been urged to join a growing number of councils in issuing food vouchers over half term as the row over free school meals provision during holidays continues.

Football star: Marcus Rashford is leading the battle for children’s free meals

London boroughs Southwark, Lambeth, Redbridge and Hammersmith and Fulham, all Labour-run, have joined three authorities in the north of England who have agreed to fund their own schemes.

The move comes after a motion to extend free school meals over holidays during the coronavirus pandemic was rejected by the Conservative government. None of Sutton or Croydon’s Tory MPs voted with the motion – Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam) and Chris Philp (Croydon South) voted against feeding the country’s most vulnerable children, while Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) didn’t even bother showing up for the division.

The free school meals campaign has been led by Manchester United and England footballer, Marcus Rashford, who has called on people to “unite” to protect the most vulnerable children.

Tory MP Paul Scully: voted against feeding vulnerable children at half-term

Rashford, who was recently made an MBE in recognition of his work in highlighting food poverty among many children, was said to be “in despair” when watching the House of Commons debate this week.

He has now responded by effectively trolling Boris Johnson’s government, using his 3.6million-follower Twitter account to highlight and praise every council and business that has joined his campaign and offered food to children over half-term.

A petition Rashford has set up to ensure children are fed in the school holidays as well as in term time has so far attracted nearly 500,000 signatures.

Stephen Cowan, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council leader, told the BBC that watching the parliamentary debate was “cutting”.

He said: “I have seen a lot of kids who need food. I was in a school on Tuesday speaking to kids who have the free lunches now and they were explaining they have gone for days without a proper meal.

“They were very sweet kids, and then I looked at the MPs who were so callously indifferent to that and I thought, ‘how can that be happening in the fifth richest country on Earth?’

“There are so many things they spend money on, it’s a moral imperative.”

In Croydon today, some on social media have called on the council to match the moves of neighbours Southwark and Lambeth and provide vouchers over half-term.

Tory MP Chris Philp: voted against feeding vulnerable children at half-term

Others have suggested constituents turning up for MP Philp’s regular canvassing session in Purley tomorrow morning to ask why he failed to vote in favour of providing more free school meals.

In Sutton, Labour activists challenged Ruth Dombey, the LibDem leader of the council, for a statement on what her local authority planned to do to feed hungry children.

“Surely Ruth Dombey and Sutton LibDems would see this as an opportunity to demonstrate separation from the needlessly cruel Tory austerity politics of their former coalition partners?” wrote one on social media.

“Come on Sutton Council, do the right thing and provide the free school meals the kids need.”


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Chris Philp MP, Croydon Council, Croydon South, Elliot Colburn, Lambeth Council, London-wide issues, Paul Scully MP, Ruth Dombey, Schools, Southwark Council, Sutton Council and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Appeals to Sutton and Croydon to join Rashford campaign

  1. Peter Scott says:

    Given the amount Croydon Councillors have received, and wasted, in allowances since the Labour group has been in charge of matters, the least they can do is show some backbone and help hungry children.

    The new Leader, who has been paid to keep crime matters under review and has failed to do so over the last few years, could repay the council for work not done and the council could put the cash into a “Feed The Children” campaign.

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