Third Tory MP who rejected extending free school meals is targeted with local protests
- Credit: UK parliament
Two more Tory MPs who rejected a motion to extend free school meals have been at the receiving end of local protests.
Empty plates with messages on them began piling up outside the office of Sutton MP Paul Scully on Monday after it emerged he was one of 322 Tory MP who voted against plans to feed hungry children over the holidays.
Plates were also found out the front of Elliot Colburn's office in Carshalton and Wallington and Sir David Amess' headquarters in Southend West.
Many were found with messages such as "lunch is not a luxury", "starve a kid, save a quid", "you get a pay rise while the kids go hungry", and "£7000 a day on consultant but no to £3 a day to feed a child" written on them.
This is not the first time over the past week that the MP for Sutton and government minister's actions have created controversy.
Shortly after rejecting the motion last Monday, he told BBC 2's Politics Live that "children have been going hungry under a Labour government for years".
Explaining why he joined the protests, Sheldon Vestey, chair of New Mill Quarter Residents Association, said the government's approach had been "truly shocking". Describing how he and his wife volunteered their time helping with food drives during the first wave, he said: "We saw first hand the knock-on effects of not just coronavirus but also our government's policies over the last decade.
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"The rise in foodbank use was larger than we ever understood and to see school meals not be extended to children in need whilst billions are being misspent is truly shocking."
Another said: "To remove support to the most vulnerable in the midst of a global pandemic is not supporting local kids, it’s abandoning them."
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A third said he would much rather see his taxes go towards feeding starving children than MPs' expenses.
Colburn, who did not cast a vote, said: "Growing up and going to school in St Helier, I know the value of free school meals, and how important it is.
"This is why I am pleased that the government has already provided £63m to local councils to help ensure eligible children continue to receive this support for food and other essentials in the school holidays.
"I am also pleased that, after calls from Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tom Drummond, Sutton Council has now confirmed that children eligible for free school meals will continue to be supported.
"There is still more work to do, and I have already raised the need for support over Christmas, and longer-term support during and after the Covid-19 crisis, with ministers."
Scully said: "Tackling holiday hunger is hugely important. The debate is how we address it.
"Giving low-income parents across the country £20pw extra directly into their pockets through a £9bn increase in welfare; enabling local authorities to make targeted interventions through a dedicated £63m fund including £171,000 to Sutton, to cover a time period including half term and helping to protect as many livelihoods as possible through £200bn of support is the way I believe is more effective than a blanket voucher scheme.
"Free school meals continue during term time ensuring a good hot meal for children at school which we know aids learning.
"We now need to start working on support for Christmas and beyond as we learn to live with the virus."
The protests come after Rishi Sunak and several Teeside MPs were banned from two stores in the region "for life".
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