Nottingham

Nottingham free school meals plan is ditched

A plan to provide free school meals to primary school pupils in Nottingham has been ditched.

Nottingham City Council has been told by the Department for Education that the year-long pilot, due to start in September, had been withdrawn.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said he would not back "unfunded promises" made by the previous government.

Coun David Mellen, who is responsible for children's services said the decision would have knock-on effects.

Childhood obesity

Before the general election, councils in Bradford, Islington and Nottingham were told they would be the second wave of a free school meals pilot which started last September in Durham, Newham and Wolverhampton.

But in a letter to Shadow Education Secretary Ed Balls Mr Gove said: "Having examined my options in depth, I have therefore decided that we will not be able to proceed with the additional free school meal pilots or the extension of free school meals to some primary school children this year - though we will proceed with existing pilots so as to assess better the case for increasing eligibility in the future."

Coun Mellen said: "We'd got support from schools who had pledged nearly £1m towards this, and we'd got support from the health authority because some of the health targets in Nottingham about childhood obesity would be addressed by this.

"We were well on the way to getting that money together to match the money government were pledging.

"I think it's a shame because some of the costs in the future of not addressing issues such as childhood obesity would be far greater than the money that is being saved here."

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