‘Children will go hungry’ say oppositon councillors as Nottinghamshire school meal prices set to increase
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The daily price Nottinghamshire Council charges schools for school meals is set to increase by 40p from £2.55 to £2.95 each.
The Conservative-run council said it was forced to make the increase due to rising costs of food, energy and staffing.
It says it will be up to individual schools to decide whether they pass the rise on to families.
Both opposition parties – Labour and the Independent Alliance – attempted to stop changes to the price of school meals by ‘calling in’ the decision – which can be done in circumstances when councillors are severely concerned about the ruling cabinet’s actions.
At a meeting of the council’s overview committee on November 23, Coun Kate Foale, the Labour group leader, said the decision could impact ‘an awful lot of children’.
She said: “The threshold for free school meals is going up, this could significantly impact an awful lot of children.
“We are very concerned about that – children will go hungry.”
Marjorie Toward, monitoring officer for the council, said there was no requirement for consultation because it was a price increase on a traded service.
She added: “This generally happens annually.
"The decision was made there was no need for consultation but it was discussed at some length with schools.
“I think that’s really transparent.”
During the meeting opposition councillors were told by committee chair Coun Boyd Elliott (Con) they could not debate the decision – only ask questions about the techincal reasons the call-in was refused.
Coun Steve Carr (Lib Dem) said: “I have sat here amazed that in a scrutiny meeting, a chair is preventing people from asking bona-fide questions.
“The call-in process needs urgent review – my email inbox is full of people saying this is a terrible decision.”
Cllr Jonathan Wheeler (Con) said: “If the call-in process is used for political purposes, this is where it falls down.”
The price hike had originally been scheduled to come into force in October, but was put on hold due to the challenge.
The council has not yet confirmed a new date for the rise but said children who qualify for free school meals will not be affected.