School meals are a hot topic at Havant election hustings

NO SCHOOL in Havant will have its budget cut in cash terms over the next parliament.

Thursday, 1st June 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 10:04 pm
Candidates at the Havant hustings, from left, Ann Buckley, Independent; Tim Dawes, Green Party; Graham Giles, Labour Party, Paul Gray, Liberal Democrats; Alan Mak, Conservatives, and John Perry, Ukip.

That was the pledge made by Conservative parliamentary candidate Alan Mak at the borough’s general election hustings last night.

But it drew a negative reaction from the 200-strong audience at Warblington School, as residents gathered to hear the six Havant candidates speak.

One said: ‘That’s rubbish!’.

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Mr Mak’s statement was made in response to a teacher’s question about the Tory pledge to give pupils breakfasts for 6.8p.

She said: ‘Who will supervise pupils before school? Breakfast isn’t part of a school day’.

Paul Gray, Liberal Democrat candidate, said: ‘It was a Lib Dem policy to introduce free school meals. What we see now is a cynical attempt to take food out of the mouths of children. Some could lose the only hot meal they have in a day.’

Mr Gray urged people to vote for himself, a local person who ‘genuinely represents the best interests of those in the area.’

Graham Giles, of the Labour party, added: ‘The idea of replacing a hot meal with a 6.8p breakfast is utterly inadequate based on evidence.’

He drew loud applause when adding: ‘It seems there’s a nasty committee that sits whenever Tories are in power to think about how they can keep old people poor and young people hungry.’

Mr Giles said he wanted to represent those concerned about pensions, university places and loss of teachers.

Ukip candidate John Perry, whose top priority is a clean, hard Brexit that he said people in Havant voted for, responded: ‘Two years ago Mr Mak said education was his number one priority. Across the area courses have been cancelled, teachers made redundant. For this to happen is appalling.’

Ann Buckley, Independent candidate, said: ‘I was disappointed when I heard free school meals were going to be lost, and about the £1.2m education cut across the borough. I campaigned to keep that money.’

Mrs Buckley said she strongly supported the NHS and was concerned about greenfield sites in the Local Plan 2036 and the lack of infrastructure.

Tim Dawes, of the Green Party, said: ‘We support hot dinners for every primary school child.’

Mr Dawes said he would campaign for clean water, the poor and dispossessed and sustainable developments.

Mr Mak defended his party, saying: ‘Poor children will get two meals a day. The schools budget is at a record high and in Havant no school will see its budget cut in cash terms over the next parliament.

‘Some figures said they might lose £1.2m, but thanks to my work they won’t.’

Mr Mak said it was important to get Brexit right, and a vote for Theresa May strengthens the chance of getting the best deal. He also touched on much of the business and community work he’s done across the area in last two years.