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Paper plates stuck to Walsall MP's office in protest over free school meals row

Paper plates were stuck to a Walsall MP's office as protests over the Government’s decision not to extend free school meals to holidays rages on.

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Protesters gathered outside Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes\' constituency office. Photo: Ursula Walker

A number of demonstrators gathered outside Tory Eddie Hughes’ Walsall North base in Bloxwich on Wednesday to voice their objections to the decision.

Around 10 paper plates with messages including “Eddie Krueger – Nightmare on Tory Street” and “Feed Our Kids” written on them were taped to the window – mirroring similar protests outside Conservative MP offices around the country.

At the same time on Wednesday, a demonstration was also held outside Wolverhampton South West MP Stuart Anderson’s office. Earlier this month, Mr Anderson’s office was given the paper plate treatment while the word “scum” was also daubed on the window.

Both Mr Hughes and Mr Anderson were among 322 Conservative MPs who voted against a Labour amendment to provide meals to kids during holidays.

Members of Walsall Labour, Momentum Walsall and Walsall and Wolverhampton Unite Community Branch were among those who protested in Bloxwich. On social media, Walsall North Labour Party described the scenes outside the office as “amazing”.

They added: “Eddie Hughes voted to let the vulnerable children of Walsall North go hungry this half term and protesters were there to spread the message of importance of free school meals.”

Following last week’s vote in parliament, Mr Hughes said the Government had extended free school meal eligibility to a further 50,000 children and added more than £9 billion to the welfare system since the start of Covid.

Paper plates stuck to Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes' constituency office. Photo: Ursula Walker

He said: “This is all money that is going to families who are in need. But you don’t hear Labour talking about this.

“The Conservatives extended free school meals over the summer holiday this year because most children hadn’t been in school since March and families had been meeting the extra costs of this.

“This autumn, the situation is totally different. Ninety-nine per cent of children are back in school and have therefore been benefiting from free school meals during term as normal.

“The Government is enabling families to budget through a responsive and effective welfare system, not free food. What we need to avoid doing is deepening a cycle of state dependency.”

Dave Wyatt, who helped organise the Wolverhampton protest, said: “Stuart Anderson voted to block the call for free school meals for hungry children and a small protest was held outside his constituency office calling for him to rethink or resign.

“It is worth noting that Mr Anderson dines free in the exclusive Westminster House of Parliament restaurant, while he is voting against vulnerable children having a daily meal in his constituency.

“It is taxpayers who are paying for his meals on top of his exorbitant salary, that was just increased well above inflation.”

Mr Anderson said he and his family were subjected to threats while his office was vandalised following the vote.

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