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Bill Crosby

Councillor Crosby - Free School Meals

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The last few days have been dominated by the Government’s decision not to provide free school meals this week. 

Given coronavirus and the uncertain economic outlook, I do believe this to be the wrong decision and much more thought should have been given to the issue.  The Government has had since the summer to come up with a plan for this half-term. 

If they are arguing that free school meals are not the best way to provide support, then alternatives should have been explored.  As that hasn’t happened, free school meals should have been provided to those that would normally receive them, but I am also concerned for those families that don’t qualify and have seen their incomes fall dramatically.

The County Council’s handling of the situation has been equally poor.  Other local authorities have offered a voucher scheme across their whole areas but this hasn’t been the case in Northumberland.

The Tory administration and Senior Officers have seemingly been unable to agree to this, which I find staggering and something which I am beginning to wonder may be the problem with making investment available for the town centre.

Now, instead of a voucher scheme, Councillors have been allowed to make up to £2,000 available from their Member’s Allowances, but since this was only announced on Sunday it didn’t really give anyone the chance to think about how to roll out something really fit for purpose.

If any group needs specific support then please do get in touch and I will be happy to assist with the funds that are available to me.  That said, one scheme for the whole county would have been much better and is an absolute must for the Christmas holidays.

The Government and the County Council have to be more joined up on this and not rely on the fantastic generosity of the numerous Bedlington businesses and voluntary groups that have stepped in this week.

My thanks to all of those involved, which once again demonstrates Bedlington’s fantastic community spirit.

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