Lib Dem Cllr David Coggan Coggins submitted a motion to the full Flintshire CC council meeting on the 26th September. The motion notes with disappointment the Cabinet’s decision: not to fund Free School Meals during the holidays; and not to provide any part-funding to eligible children, Cabinet’s total lack of communication in telling Members that Informal Cabinet decided against funding holiday provision of Free School Meals. It then goes on to call upon the Cabinet to reconsider its decision and to reinstate holiday provision of Free School Meals for as long as the Cost of Living crisis continues.
After the meeting started and Cllr David Coggan Coggins spoke on the motion, a Labour councillor sought to introduce an amendment that did nothing to reinstate free school meals. This triggered the councillors involved in the motion and the amendment to retire with the chair and officers in private to resolve differences.
An agreement was then reached with the Lib Dems accepting a revised amendment to the motion, read out by the Leader of the Council and that agreed to fund free school meals in the Christmas holidays for vulnerable children. Importantly, it also committed to the forming of a working group to look at a future funding scheme to be considered within the 24/25 budget.
It also attracted an apology from the Leader of the Council for the fact that the communication of the Cabinet's original decision had not been forthcoming in a timely manner .
The Welsh Government scheme was originally set up during the Covid epidemic by LibDem MS and Education Secretary at the time Kirsty Williams. It brought much needed support for struggling families and during the current cost of living crisis, LibDems believe it is not the time to stop the funding, which the Welsh government did back in may.
Cllr Andrew Parkhurst, attending a recent Welsh Local Government Association meeting which FM Mark Drakeford was addressing , questioned him on whether he would reinstate the Free School Meal Scheme for the Christmas holidays so our most vulnerable would not go hungry while he was enjoying his turkey dinner!
Mark Drakeford simply replied the funding had virtually run out, although it is clear they can find the money when it politically suits them.
There will be many vulnerable families that will welcome the steps taken by Flintshire Liberal Democrats at the meeting today. It was pleasing to see everyone across the local political spectrum in the chamber supporting the negotiated motion... This reminds us what LibDems can achieve by raising issues and fighting for a fair deal!