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Free school meal vouchers to be handed out instead of ‘woefully inadequate’ food parcels 

The education secretary confirmed parents will receive vouchers instead

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RoadsideMum/Twitter & Number10/Flickr

The education secretary has confirmed parents will receive vouchers instead of hampers. 

Gavin Williamson, education secretary, told the education committee in the House of Commons that the £15 voucher scheme will return next week after the government received criticism over the free school meal hampers. 

The U-turn from the government will see the return of £15 meal vouchers for supermarkets so parents can buy their own meals for children. 

Speaking to the committee, Mr Williamson said: “As a dad myself, I thought, ‘How could a family in receipt of that really be expected to deliver five nutritious meals as is required?’ It’s just not acceptable.” 

This week several pictures of food hampers were shared across social media with parents stressing how inadequate the parcels were to feed their children.

Speaking on one such image that came from the company Chartwells, Mr Williamson said ‘we will not live with that’.

He said: “There are clear standards that are set there that they need to deliver against and if they do not deliver against them, actions will have to be taken.”

He went onto add that the government would ‘name and shame’ companies which are not delivering high standards.

Tweeting today, the education secretary said: “I’ll be meeting with school catering firms today to make clear that the poor examples of lunch parcels we have seen are unacceptable. All parcels must meet the standards we expect to be adhered to. Every pupil needs a nutritious lunch.”

Chartwells apologised yesterday that the ‘quantity has fallen short in this instance’, and added that any costs will be refunded of parcels which have ‘not met usual high standards’. It added that from Monday the company would add an extra £3.50 of funding to food parcels.

Families eligible for free school meals can choose between food parcels or vouchers while schools are shut during the third national lockdown in England. 

The initial picture posted by RoadsideMum on Twitter has now racked up 19,000 retweets. Campaigner and Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford said ‘children deserve better than this’. 

He posted on Wednesday morning that he had a conversation with prime minister Boris Johnson and that the PM also thought the pictures were ‘unacceptable’. 

He said: “He has assured me that he is committed to correcting the issue with the food hampers and that a full review of the supply chain is taking place.

“He agrees that images of hampers being shared on Twitter are unacceptable.”

Children’s minister Vicky Ford, who called the pictures ‘completely unacceptable’, says she has met with the boss of Chartwells who has ‘taken immediate action to stop further deliveries of poor-quality parcels’.

“They will ensure schools affected are compensated and they will provide additional food to the eligible child in line with our increased funding,” said Ms Ford.

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Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules

Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes

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Jaggery / Geograph

A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.

Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.

According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.

The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.



They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.

The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.

A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.

The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.

Jaggery / Geograph

However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.

The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.

Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.

“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.

“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”

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Operation Forth Bridge: the full plan for what happens next after Prince Philip’s death

Buckingham Palace confirmed the sad news of his passing earlier today

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Michael Garnett / Flickr

Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh has died.

The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June, passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning, Friday April 9th.

Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

“Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

There were already strict procedures put in place for when Prince Philip died, which have now begun, and they’re known as Operation Forth Bridge.

According to the plan there are several steps that need to be followed, including everything from national mourning to a burial site for the Duke.

Operation Forth Bridge has been around for many years, with Buckingham Palace, in consultation with both the Queen and Prince Philip, regularly updating and reviewing it.

Part one of the operation was the announcement from Buckingham Palace confirming the death of the Duke, which was distributed to the Press Association and BBC first.

Then the country enters a period of national mourning, meaning a set of rules, like flags being flown at half-mast, must be followed.

According to reports, it’s thought newsreaders and other TV presenters must wear black out of respect.

Jamie McCaffrey / Flickr

Next, plans for the funeral will be drawn up, and while Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral he reportedly wanted something more discreet – a private service in the style of a military funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, followed by burial at Frogmore Gardens.

The funeral is still expected to be televised despite the current restrictions, although it remains unclear how many people will be able to attend it.

The Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, Sir Edward Young, will be on hand to help her during the undoubtedly challenging days ahead.

As well as being responsible for supporting the Queen in her duties, Sir Edward is also the channel of communication between the Queen and the government.

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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99

NEWS JUST IN

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Jamie McCaffrey / Flickr

Prince Philip has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace has confirmed today.

A tweet on The Royal Family Twitter account announced the news.

The Duke of Edinburgh was born 1921, and was married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years – officially the longest-serving consort in British history.

The official announcement read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

“Further announcements will be made in due course.

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

There’s been no official details about the Duke’s funeral released yet, however it has been reported that he will be given a royal ceremonial funeral rather than a state funeral, in line with his wishes.

 

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