Breakfast club charge defeated

MONMOUTHSHIRE councillors yesterday agreed not to charge £1 for childcare provision in school breakfast clubs.

The motion proposed by the Labour leader Councillor Dimitri Batrouni was to support the Welsh government’s free school breakfast policy and to not charge £1 for childcare provisions during school breakfast clubs.

The report for breakfast club charges was on the cabinet agenda earlier this month but was pulled at the last minute.

Cllr Batrouni, member for St Christopher’s, said: “The Welsh government brought in this policy, our concerns are that the Conservative group are jeopardising this policy by proposing charges for childcare instead.

“We have had increases in charges of school meals and cuts to school transport. This would be an unnecessary barrier for parents of the 1,000 children who use the club.”

Councillor Peter Farley, member for St Mary’s said: “It is about health and nutrition of our children.

“What next? Will we be paying for playground use or paying for the role of pastoral care for teachers?”

The clubs are currently free and are held between 8am and 9am every school day. The Welsh government, who provided grant funding for the clubs until April last year when money for them was transferred to the local government settlement, does not allow charging for food at the clubs.

Cllr Debby Blakebrough, member for Trellech United, said: “My first reaction was the huge impact this would have on low income families who tend to be single parent families who tend to be women. It will hit this group hard.

“One pound a day doesn’t seem a lot but with two children together this would be £40 a month. This will put strain on an already tight budget.”

The council’s leader Peter Fox said that the report was pulled to get more information and to go towards the scrutiny committee to consider the proposals before the idea was taken any further.

He said: “I support the first part of the motion but cannot support the untruths in the second part of the motion.”

Cllr Liz Hacket Pain, member for schools and learning, said: “The priority is the nutritional side of breakfast that is the most important part of it. This (charges) are not going to happen that was why it was pulled.

“The fact that it was pulled shows we were not happy with it.”

Councillor Bob Hayward, member for Dixton with Osbaston made an amendment to the motion which disregarded the statement ‘disappointed the Conservative and Liberal groups want to introduce a charge for the childcare element of it’.

He said: “The Conservative group have said they will vote against this motion because of the second part of the motion. The motion can now be supported by everyone in the room.”

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