STEWART Maxwell MSP has called on Labour rival Ken Macintosh to explain his decision to vote against a move to provide healthy, free school meals to all pupils.
The free school meal plan for P1 -3 pupils was announced last week as part of a £114 million government package for young people over two years.
In East Renfrewshire, around 3,386 children are set to benefit from this announcement.
However Labour MSPs voted against the policies at Holyrood this week.
Mr Maxwell said:“In his determination to attack everything proposed by the SNP, Ken Mackintosh MSP ended up voting against policies which Labour themselves claim to support.
“A broad coalition of charities campaigned for this policy and now Labour must explain their actions to them.
“I was proud to vote for the rollout of healthy free school meals to all children in primaries one to three and a significant expansion of childcare provision.
Mr Macintosh defended his decision.
He told The Extra: “I support the extension of free school meals but I also want to help families here in East Renfrewshire with the rising cost of living by increasing childcare provision.
“I voted against another motion on independence, but the SNP voted against their own seven-year old manifesto commitment to increase childcare, not once, but twice.”
What’s the verdict from the southside and East Ren? We took to The Avenue to find out...
Alan Hunter (62), from Strathbungo, told The Extra: “All kids deserve the same chance. It’s completely unfair that some go days without a good square meal.
“Hopefully this means disadvantaged children will have to go without no more.”
Clarkston resident Irene Riach (75) commented: “MSPs and councillors take needless trips abroad — that’s a far bigger misuse of public funds.
“I help out at the foodbank at Cathcart Trinity church and I see first hand there is still a big divide.”
Harry Harper, from Newton Mearns, agrees. The 82-year-old said: “So much money is wasted by the people in power — just look at the amount spent on futile wars.
“Money to ensure children get a good start in life is well worth it.”
And Luciano deMarco (37), also from Newton Mearns, added: “The government are doing the right thing by stepping in. It is very important that children eat properly and all deserve a healthy diet, whatever their circumstances.”
What do you think? Email Gregor (address above) and your views could be used in next week’s paper.