'Needy suffer while councillors eat free'

Echo: Disgusted – councillor Dave Blackwell Disgusted – councillor Dave Blackwell

ANGRY opposition councillors hit out at County Hall bosses for trying to scrap funding for a vital meals service for the elderly...

while scoffing free lunches.

Essex County Council wants to withdraw its subsidy for daily meals-on-wheels due to dwindling interest.

However, the move has been condemned by opposition parties as those still eating the meals face a daily price hike from £3.95 to £4.79, leaving some elderly people £218 a year worse off.

Critics are also angry the cuts could be made at the same time Freedom of Information figures show County Hall spent £68,549 over the past two years providing free meals for councillors.

Dave Blackwell, Independent county councillor for Canvey Island East, said: “If we had to choose between councillors getting free lunches and elderly people getting subsidised meals, there is no argument. I think it’s disgusting.

"What the council would save is peanuts. If we can’t help the most vulnerable in our communities then it’s a poor state of affairs. I’m ashamed to be associated with anything to do with this decision.”

The Tory-run council has ruled out axing the service, but wants to scrap the 84p it pays per meal.

The whole meals-on-wheels service is understood to cost £260,000 a year and the council has to save £200million in the next four years.

All 1,003 users are being consulted about the possible change.

Jamie Huntman, county councillor for Thundersley and leader of the opposition Ukip group, said: "What they're trying to save is such a minimal amount. If they wanted to cut a service which would save millions, we'd understand because we are in austere times. This is just chipping away at the edges, and it's going to affect a lot of vulnerable people.’’ He said his party donated money to the chairman’s chosen charity to make up for free meals provided in the members’ area at County Hall.

Mr Huntman added: “We don’t feel comfortable having free lunches, so we donate money to the chairman’s charity.

“Shunning it altogether would be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.”

Ann Brown, Tory councillor responsible for adult social care, said: “I am aware that, for some residents, meals-on-wheels is a vital service.

“However, as alternative options have appeared in the market, the number of customers has fallen, which means it is difficult to continue to provide the service in its current guise and provide value for money for taxpayers.”

The public consultation on the meals-on-wheels service will run until Monday, July 7.

Comments (8)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:27am Tue 3 Jun 14

DAGASMAN says...

They get free lunches? Who'd have thought that? The size of the guts on most of them, they personify the word "greedy"
They get free lunches? Who'd have thought that? The size of the guts on most of them, they personify the word "greedy" DAGASMAN
  • Score: 19

10:34am Tue 3 Jun 14

John Right says...

It's also the finest cuisine such as veal, lobster, fillet steak and lamb, with vegetarian dishes, all washed down with fine wines. Thats why the Tories love their 68000 pound plus food bill, not to mention all those bonus points, life's grand
It's also the finest cuisine such as veal, lobster, fillet steak and lamb, with vegetarian dishes, all washed down with fine wines. Thats why the Tories love their 68000 pound plus food bill, not to mention all those bonus points, life's grand John Right
  • Score: 18

11:03am Tue 3 Jun 14

Happy Chickie says...

No wonder they are all so bloody obese. Stop the free meals for them and let people have their meals on wheels subsidy.

it is about some of these greedy bums on the council payroll start bringing a packed lunch and get with the program.

Additionally councilors should not be drinking at lunch - makes them look like lushes.
No wonder they are all so bloody obese. Stop the free meals for them and let people have their meals on wheels subsidy. it is about some of these greedy bums on the council payroll start bringing a packed lunch and get with the program. Additionally councilors should not be drinking at lunch - makes them look like lushes. Happy Chickie
  • Score: 10

12:01pm Tue 3 Jun 14

Kim Gandy says...

This is old hat. UKIP's Kerry Smith brought this subject up last year when he was first elected and made it clear that he would not be partaking of free lunches and instead purchasing his own meals and not claiming for them either.

So let's get some facts straight before condemning ALL councillors.

As usual above, the same hysterical rants based on no knowledge.
This is old hat. UKIP's Kerry Smith brought this subject up last year when he was first elected and made it clear that he would not be partaking of free lunches and instead purchasing his own meals and not claiming for them either. So let's get some facts straight before condemning ALL councillors. As usual above, the same hysterical rants based on no knowledge. Kim Gandy
  • Score: -5

12:55pm Tue 3 Jun 14

Kim Gandy says...

Now, back on subject. As I said, this was originally brought up by Cllr Smith last year and I believe it's all coming to an end soon anyway.

There will be lots of changes coming now the balance is shifting. Basildon Council is next, given the whopping 11 seats won by UKIP last week.
Now, back on subject. As I said, this was originally brought up by Cllr Smith last year and I believe it's all coming to an end soon anyway. There will be lots of changes coming now the balance is shifting. Basildon Council is next, given the whopping 11 seats won by UKIP last week. Kim Gandy
  • Score: -4

4:51pm Tue 3 Jun 14

Howard Cháse says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
Now, back on subject. As I said, this was originally brought up by Cllr Smith last year and I believe it's all coming to an end soon anyway.

There will be lots of changes coming now the balance is shifting. Basildon Council is next, given the whopping 11 seats won by UKIP last week.
Poor old beltstrainers club eh?

Still could be a positive benefit to some of the old hands who have guts the size of dustbins. They might drop several stone and a yard or two of waistline if they have to put their hand in their pockets to pay for their lunches rather than goingup for thirds every day....
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: Now, back on subject. As I said, this was originally brought up by Cllr Smith last year and I believe it's all coming to an end soon anyway. There will be lots of changes coming now the balance is shifting. Basildon Council is next, given the whopping 11 seats won by UKIP last week.[/p][/quote]Poor old beltstrainers club eh? Still could be a positive benefit to some of the old hands who have guts the size of dustbins. They might drop several stone and a yard or two of waistline if they have to put their hand in their pockets to pay for their lunches rather than goingup for thirds every day.... Howard Cháse
  • Score: 3

5:09pm Tue 3 Jun 14

CarnMountification says...

Kim Gandy wrote:
Now, back on subject. As I said, this was originally brought up by Cllr Smith last year and I believe it's all coming to an end soon anyway.

There will be lots of changes coming now the balance is shifting. Basildon Council is next, given the whopping 11 seats won by UKIP last week.
Will the menu now include Bratwurtz sausages, as that troll seems he's missing his Mummy
[quote][p][bold]Kim Gandy[/bold] wrote: Now, back on subject. As I said, this was originally brought up by Cllr Smith last year and I believe it's all coming to an end soon anyway. There will be lots of changes coming now the balance is shifting. Basildon Council is next, given the whopping 11 seats won by UKIP last week.[/p][/quote]Will the menu now include Bratwurtz sausages, as that troll seems he's missing his Mummy CarnMountification
  • Score: 1

7:10am Wed 4 Jun 14

Hickey says...

The Tory's stopped hot meals for pensioners at the George Hurd Centre last year. How they could do that and continue with their own free meals in not beyond me. Their Tory's.
The Tory's stopped hot meals for pensioners at the George Hurd Centre last year. How they could do that and continue with their own free meals in not beyond me. Their Tory's. Hickey
  • Score: 4

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree