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29th Jun, 2022

Stratford council chiefs reject food poverty motion

AN ACTION plan to tackle food poverty in the district has been rejected by Stratford council chiefs.

Stratford District Council’s (SDC) cabinet voted down a motion put forward by Liberal Democrat councillor Manuela Perteghella, seconded by Coun Neil Edden, to tackle the issue affecting families in the district.

The motion asked the authority to investigate the extent and causes of food insecurity in the district, to consider ways to tackle it, and to support those affected by working with local foodbanks and organisations.

But it was turned down on the basis Warwickshire County Council launched a ‘Family Poverty Strategy’ last year to tackle financial hardship in the county.

The decision comes as Stratford Foodbank, which has already seen year-on-year increases in demand, supported some 6,600 residents in 2020 – a rise of nearly 60 per cent – compared to the previous year.

Coun Perteghella said she was ‘disappointed’ by the decision.

She told the Observer: “Having proposed the motion to tackle food insecurity, which has dramatically increased in our district in the past year, I’m disappointed cabinet has rejected it 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.

“Sadly, the debate showed that food poverty and insecurity is not this current administration’s priority. Many councils around the UK have already committed to food poverty action plans. While the motion was rejected by the cabinet, I will continue to campaign on this issue, and support initiatives and partnerships so that everyone has the right to afford and access healthy food.”

During the meeting, district councillor Jo Barker, explained she believed the county council covered all the points made in the motion as well as district communities through allotment and orchard schemes.

She said: “Food poverty is a massively important issue, which is why Warwickshire County Council operates a welfare fund to support local work in this area and I personally help to run the independent Shipston Foodbank.

“While the motion was rejected by the cabinet, a report on this topic will be going to our overview and scrutiny committee when it comes out from the county.”

SDC leader Tony Jefferson added the county council is ‘the right place for this work’ and SDC did not need to ‘reinvent wheels’.

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