Mayor hits back in school dinners row

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DONCASTER mayor Peter Davies has hit back in a row about planned school dinner price hikes – accusing his critics of hypocrisy.

Mr Davies came out fighting after senior Labour member Coun Ros Jones – who is standing in the forthcoming mayoral election contest – blasted proposals to put the price of meals up by 10p.

He said: “She must have a very short memory because in 2010 I attempted to freeze the price of school dinners and the Labour group overturned my decision and agreed to put the prices up by 20p. It smacks of total hypocrisy.”

And he said that, two years ago, Labour councillors had also agreed to push ahead with further price rises for school dinners.

Mr Davies said: “In 2011, both Labour and myself agreed to put dinners up by 30p. I don’t recall it being a bone of contention then.”

His comments come after Coun Jones said the rise, part of the council’s draft budget proposals which involve the authority trying to plug a £26m funding gap, would lead to fewer children in Doncaster tucking into school meals.

Earlier this week, she said: “Cash strapped parents battling against rising food and energy bill costs now face another price increase – but this time from Doncaster’s own mayor.”

The draft budget, which has been drawn up by both Mr Davies and opposition councillors in consultation with union officials and key decision makers, wants to put the price of dinners up to £2.10 a day – leaving parents to find an extra £19 a year.

He said: “No-one in the Labour party made any objection when we were discussing it. I am expecting some knockabout in this mayoral campaign, but the two words that spring to mind are ‘clutching’ and ‘straws.’

“I have said that nothing is set in stone and it is a decision we can revisit if necessary.”