Disappointment at free meals vote

Half term came early in Wiltshire schools. For most families this is welcome ‎extra time together.

But for some it has created yet more pressures to make ends meet.

A few weeks ago, Her Majesty the Queen chose to honour the England and Manchester United footballer Marcus ‎Rashford.

His MBE was not for his undoubted sporting prowess but rather for his campaign to extend free school meal vouchers to the holidays for all children of families on Universal Credit.

Wiltshire has also seen a sharp rise in the number of such families, many coming onto benefits for the first time. Around 15,000 children are in these Wiltshire families.

So, Marcus and many of us might have expected our Wiltshire MPs to back his campaign.

He and we were bitterly disappointed. None followed the brave example of Caroline Ansell MP. She resigned from the Government over their refusal to help vulnerable families feed their children.

A new Conservative MP who won the former Lib Dem seat of Eastbourne is an unlikely hero for me.

But I applaud Caroline's courage as enthusiastically ‎as I condemn James Gray MP and his four Wiltshire Tory colleagues for their lack of it.

Our struggling families and their children deserved better from them.

Dr Brian Mathew

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for North Wiltshire

& Wiltshire Councillor

Feeding schoolchildren would cost peanuts

By voting against extending the free school meals scheme for needy schoolchildren you have shown your true, completely unfeeling, natures. You are both an utter disgrace to this town and to so many of your constituents and their offspring.

As political own goals go, though, this was a particularly spectacular one. Feeding schoolchildren through the winter holidays would only have cost £20m - which is peanuts in public spending terms and absolutely miniscule compared with subsidising restaurant meals via the “eat out to help out” scheme.

Oh and, by the way, I see from the latest (subsidised by the taxpayers) menu from the Members' Dining Room that you can order a prawn cocktail for around £3 and a ribeye steak (with all the trimmings) for around £9! Nice work if you can get it, eh?

I am sure that the people of Swindon will not forget, or forgive, at the next General Election.

Steve Cowdry

Saddleback Road