School meal price anger

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PLANNED price hikes for school dinners in Doncaster have been slammed by a senior opposition councillor.

The cost of a meal is set to go up by 10p a day under plans drawn up by the authority as Doncaster Council battles to plug a £26 million funding gap.

But the move has met with criticism from Labour’s mayoral candidate Ros Jones, who believes the rise could lead to fewer children eating school meals and has laid the blame at the door of Mayor Peter Davies.

She said: “Cash-strapped parents battling against rising food and energy bill costs, and struggling with the Government’s assault on tax credits, now face another price increase – but this time from Doncaster’s own mayor. At a time when household finances are tight, it will be an unwelcome expense and could lead to a downturn in the number of children opting to take school meals, opting for less-healthy alternatives.”

The proposals mean parents will have to fork out an extra £19 a year for their children’s school meals – more if they have more than one child.

The average daily cost will go up to £2.10 and the average annual cost to £380 as the authority attempts to recoup costs forced on the council by the coalition Government, which has ordered local authorities to tighten purse strings.

In response Mr Davies released statement in which he said: “My officers and I have spent many hours working this through with the Labour group and I am confident we have reached a place where I am proposing a budget that is best for the people of Doncaster in the current financial crisis.”

Opposition councillors, unions and other key decision makers have all been involved in drawing up the draft proposals.