Women's group serves up plates protest at Forest MP's office over school meals vote
A LOAD of empty plates was dumped at the entrance to a New Forest MP’s constituency office in response to his stance on school meal vouchers for needy families.
Tory New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne – along with his Independent New Forest East counterpart Julian Lewis – supported the government’s decision against the scheme for the half-term holidays.
The government had extended free school meals to eligible children during the Easter break this year and, after a campaign by England footballer Marcus Rashford, did the same for the summer holidays.
The refusal has created uproar, and a raft of businesses across the New Forest and Christchurch have stepped in to offer their help to those families in need. Hampshire County and BCP councils – both led by Conservatives – have also pledged additional support.
Now the Lymington Labour Women’s Group has made its point by leaving a load of empty plates and messages outside Sir Desmond’s constituency office in Cliff Crescent, Barton.
The china plates were painted with slogans such as “a right Eton Mess”, “starve kids, save a quid” and “please sir, can I have some more”.
A statement from the group said: “This message from the women is to signal to Sir Desmond that they, as mothers and grandmothers, are extremely worried about the idea of the 3,000 children across the Forest who would usually benefit from the voucher programme may well fall through the cracks.
“The thought of any child going hungry in 21st century Britain, let alone in an area as affluent at the New Forest is unacceptable and extremely concerning.
“They urge him to reconsider his views and think rather than about his political stance and more of the dignity of the families affected.”
Defending his vote, Sir Desmond has said: “The proper way to address poverty is not to provide free lunches to poor children, but to empower their parents, by tackling their poverty at source, by increasing their income.”
To this end, he added, Universal Credit had been increased, the personal tax-free allowance raised to £12,500, and adult national minimum wage hiked to £8.72 per hour.