‘Reckless’ plan to fund foodbanks fails

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A bid by a Crawley councillor to help fund foodbanks has been slammed as ‘financially wreckless’.

Labour councillor Michael Jones brought a motion asking county councillors to consider putting £70,000 towards helping the county’s foodbanks.

However, Cllr Michael Brown, cabinet member for finance called the idea ‘financially reckless’ at a time when the council had to cut £68m from its budget.

Cllr Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) said: “I am aware some people who have stated nationally that foodbanks aren’t necessary and people are not spending their money wisely enough, but in most cases there is nothing more demoralising for a human being, in otherwise good health, than coming forward for help feeding themselves.”

He said projects would soon struggle following the Government’s decision to withdraw Local Assistance Network funding, which has enabled the council to give £33,000 to foodbanks in the past year for accommodation or maintaining refrigerating units.

“If the council doesn’t have the money for this, I have to ask, who will?”, he added.

He later accused some members of being ‘scrooges’.

Cllr Michael Brown (Con, Fernhurst), cabinet member for finance said: “Mr Jones basks in the luxury of opposition. He is free to make claims and spending commitments that he knows he will not be able to honour.

“I would like to ask him, since there is no £70,000 sitting around waiting to be spent, which library’s budget would he cut, which children and family centre would be close, which bus service subsidy would he axe because they are the implications of his motion.”

He added: “I urge members to vote against this financially reckless motion.”

Cllr Sue Mullins (Lab, Gossops Green and Ifield) said: “You cannot just take a shopping bag and walk into a foodbank. You have to be referred by a doctor, social worker or local authority. You are given a voucher for enough emergency food to last for three days.

“It’s not luxury goods. It’s Smart Price pasta and toilet rolls. Imagine not being able to buy toilet rolls.”

There was a recorded vote and the motion was lost 38 votes to 17.