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Stratford councillors reject food poverty motion

Councillors have rejected an opposition motion calling on the district council to do more to tackle food poverty in the district, claiming much of this work is already being looked at by the county council.

Foodbank (45208207)
Foodbank (45208207)

During last Monday’s Cabinet meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Manuela Perteghella put forward a motion calling on the district council to do more to help, drawing attention to the rocketing demand on foodbanks during the pandemic.

She urged councillors to set up a food poverty action plan in partnership with foodbanks and other organisations, to lobby local MPs for increased support a range of other suggestions.

However Cllr Jo Barker, portfolio holder for people argued that the motion should be rejected saying: “It’s my opinion that everything that has been asked for in this is already covered either by the work of individuals in the community or by the county council.”

She added: “I’m not prepared to ask officers to do work on issues that are already covered in many places elsewhere and I would suggest to cabinet that we reject the motion.”

Fellow conservative Daren Pemberton said that while the issues raised in the motion were important, SDC would potentially risk cutting across the work already being done at the county council if it chose to do its own work in this area.

In the end the Cabinet voted unanimously to reject the motion.

Giving her reaction to the decision, Cllr Perteghella, said: “Having proposed the motion to tackle food insecurity, which has dramatically increased in our district in the past year, I'm disappointed that the Cabinet has rejected the motion on the basis that some work has already been done by the County Council. While I'm happy to see that the County council is moving in the right direction, the motion clearly asked for a coordinated approach between the two local authorities and other stakeholders.

“Further, the motion asked for the District council to put food poverty action at the heart of its policies in the areas for which this council has responsibility, including planning. The Cabinet decided to not even explore the options to shape a food poverty action plan in partnership with the County, by, for example, choosing to refer the motion to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.”

Marion Homer, manager of Stratford Foodbank, added: “"It’s not right that anyone in Stratford and the surrounding area has to turn to charity because they cant afford something as basic as food. In the last year we’ve distributed 4,445 parcels across our area, an increase of 41% on 2019. This is far from okay. Volunteers from Stratford foodbank are doing all they can to provide the best possible emergency support to local people struggling to afford the essentials, but ultimately we don’t want people to need emergency food in the first place.

“As a community we all need to make sure support is in place to ensure everyone from Stratford and the surrounding area has enough money for the essentials, long before anyone gets to the point of needing our help. It’s time for us to build a better future together, by taking action to create a stronger, more just society where everyone can afford the basics. I look forward to seeing how this is taken forward by our local authorities because our figures show there is an urgent need to address this problem now."

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