Independents at Nottinghamshire Council slam ruling Tories over school meals price rise

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Independent councillors at Nottinghamshire Council have accused the ruling Conservatives of ‘driving a coach and horses through democracy’ over school meal prices.

Both Independent and Labour councillors called on the Tories not to go ahead with plans to increase the cost of a school meal by more than 15 per cent as they believed the rise was unnecessary.

But the Conservatives have decided to continue with the plans, meaning prices will increase imminently but no date has been confirmed.

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Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind), the Independent Alliance’s education spokesperson described the decision as ‘a dog’s dinner that drove a coach and horses through democracy.’

School meal prices in Nottinghamshire are set to rise. Photo: Getty ImagesSchool meal prices in Nottinghamshire are set to rise. Photo: Getty Images
School meal prices in Nottinghamshire are set to rise. Photo: Getty Images

He claimed the price rise will impact the poorest children and force many to give up school dinners altogether.

He said: “The reality is that 52,209 children are living in poverty in Nottinghamshire.

"Of those, 25,360 don’t qualify for free school meals and these are the children who will be impacted most.

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"The Conservatives turned down our request because they say legally they don’t need to consult over the impact of their decision.

"This has not been put to any vote and it drives a coach and horses through democracy.

"This whole process has been a dog’s dinner with no thought whatsoever for the children it will impact.

"This is a shameful decision and one that makes lives more difficult for thousands of kids across our county.”

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But Coun John Cottee (Con), cabinet member for communities, said: “The council’s decision-making and scrutiny processes have been followed entirely correctly in relation to this decision.

"A letter will be sent to schools very shortly confirming the date from which this change to the price of a council-supplied school meal will take effect.”

“We gave very careful consideration to this matter before reaching a decision, but in light of the recent spike in inflation it was necessary to balance the rising cost of making and delivering a school meal against our absolute commitment to ensuring that Nottinghamshire children continue to receive a high-quality, nutritious school meal product.”

“Even after this price change is implemented, the cost of school meal in Nottinghamshire will still compare favourably with other areas and the council continues to subsidise the overall cost of providing these meals to keep the price as low as we realistically can.”