‘Empty Plates’ protest to be held outside South Thanet MP’s Broadstairs office

Empty Plates protest

An ’empty plates’ protest will be held outside South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay’s office tomorrow (October 27) in a demonstration against the voting down of an Opposition Day motion to extend free school meals into the holidays until Easter 2021.

The failure of the motion, which was prompted by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to tackle child poverty, has caused fury in Thanet and across the country.

Salmestone Ward councillors have now organised the protest to take place tomorrow from noon until 1pm outside the offices at  4 The Broadway, Broadstairs.

Those joining the action are asked to bring an empty plate or flowers.

The protest event page says: “Craig Mackinlay voted last week to deny children of Thanet a meal during the school holidays. Bring an empty plate or some flowers to represent the hunger he has chosen for the children. Please wear a mask and socially distance.”

Cllr Gregory at a SONIK demonstration

Salmestone councillor Candy Gregory said: “I’m organising this protest (with Cllr Pauline Farrance) in response to Craig Mackinlay’s hideous decision to vote against giving children a nutritious meal during the pandemic when people are struggling. Even Roger Gale had the decency to abstain.”

Craig Mackinlay

Mr Mackinlay says he feels funding would be better used to support projects such as Our Kitchen’s Summer Kitchen and similar community schemes, but that would be “an imprecise way of guaranteeing that every eligible child nationally would be covered, hence the voucher scheme that was adopted.”

In correspondence with Newington primary head teacher Cliff Stokes the MP said: “I am making enquiries of where and how a government ring-fenced allocation of £1.669million to KCC in August, entirely for FSM style support, has been used and how much is left and available. This ‘Local Authority Welfare Fund’ appears to have been entirely overlooked amongst the fizz and misinformation of the week.

“There are a number of household spending areas wherein there could be a debate as to what taxpayers should pay for in addition, or are deemed part of the inbuilt formulaic and expectation of existing benefit payments to cover.”
Since Mr Mackinlay’s correspondence Kent County Council has issued information that help for anyone struggling to provide for their children is available, and that the need to ensure children from low-income families are fed through the school holidays has never been greater.The authority says it supports thousands of children across Kent and further help is available through the Emergency Assistance Grant for those who need extra support.

Through the Kent Together Helpline, set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and working in partnership with District and Borough Councils, thousands of vulnerable people in Kent have already been supported and protected from hardship and isolation during the crisis.

“We and our partners have been working to provide emergency assistance to families most at risk,” said KCC leader Roger Gough.

“I want to reassure anyone that needs financial assistance that this support is there and has always been there. And now, during this half term break, I want to ensure that those who need help and support are really able to get it.

“Whilst the last few months have presented many challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the strength of partnerships and community spirit, and this has helped us all in supporting those who are most vulnerable in our communities.

“I strongly encourage anyone who needs help, whether during this half-term or indeed at any time, to contact us for help.”

If your child is eligible for free school meals and you are in need of financial assistance this half term you can get in touch by visiting Kent.gov.uk/Kenttogether

You can also call the helpline on 03000 41 92 92.

Thanet steps up to pledge help following government rejection of extension to free school meals


  1. Mackinley, and Gale are a disgrace and do nothing for the people of Thanet, why should they, they don’t live here! Its not just an outrage they didn’t vote FOR free school meals, for the most underprivileged children nationally, but why are 40% of children still living in poverty in the 21st Century? Its not just school dinners ALL children need, but also a good breakfast! Free school Breakfasts has been proved to increase concentration/learning, but also behaviour. Stop giving billions of pounds to Tory businesses, and end child poverty now!

    • Why stop at breakfast? Why not a free dinner as well?
      A box of own brand cereal is cheap, as is a loaf of wholemeal bread to make toast.
      The sad fact is that many parents just can’t be bothered.
      Yes, there is hardship but there is a lot of provision to help struggling families.
      The summer kitchen initiative was fab as it showed how to cook healthy meals on a budget with recipe provided.
      Cooking skills should have been taught in schools ages ago, along with money management. We should ditch some of the purist teaching and focus on life skills too.

  2. Money is no longer the issue. The millions of British people disgusted with Tories are pulling together to help but this exposed the well fed fat cats of the government.

    They have been promising world class and sunny uplands then they hit the poorest.

      • Yet, they have given 1.57 billion to the ‘culture recovery fund’ obviously looking at paintings & modern art exhibitions-such as the ‘wonderful’ displays of brass instruments fixed on walls, papier-mâché figures etc at the Turder Contemporary are more important than feeding people.

  3. Broadstairs resident, summer kitchen project is now moved to 51 High street Margate next to kfc. We are open every week Tuesday to Saturday 10/00 to 3/00 providing affordable healthy food eg branded cereal s for 40pence a box , eggs 10p each and milk for 30p a pint plus cooking advise, please come and look, its a club free to join if you explain why you need us

    • Yes, I didn’t mean to imply the Summer Kitchen had finished.
      It’s a brilliant initiative and the examples of food available are great.

  4. Dear Broadstairs resident, do you have any idea of the constant cuts to council budgets that central government have made to local council budgets, year on year? Any ‘extra’ they give is a drop in the ocean to what they’ve taken away. They are callous, greedy, brazen thieves and liars.

    • And we know the party you supported. The one being investigated by the EHRC. So don’t preach to me about the state of the Conservative party.
      Enjoy reading the EHRC report, rumour has it that it’s being published this week.

  5. The party in power, and the one that’s been in power for over a decade, is the tories. There’s no getting away from that.
    During that time, the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer.
    It’s a desperate shame that some parents are so screwed up that they can’t cope with parenthood. But that’s no reason why their children should go hungry. They didn’t ask to be born, they had no choice in their parents.
    To turn away from hungry children, too weak to cry, is appalling. But it encapsulates the ethos of this government: if the rich get even richer, then even more crumbs will fall from their tables for the poor to gratefully scrabble among.

  6. How Craig Mackinlay voted-a small sample.

    Voted against equal gay rights
    Show votes
    0 votes for, 1 vote against, 1 absence, in 2019

    Almost always voted against laws to promote equality and human rights
    Show votes
    0 votes for, 6 votes against, 1 absence, between 2015–2019

    Voted against investigations into the Iraq war
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    0 votes for, 1 vote against, in 2016

    Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
    Show votes
    0 votes for, 8 votes against, between 2015–2016

    Consistently voted against higher taxes on banks
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    0 votes for, 8 votes against, between 2015–2018

    Consistently voted for more restrictive regulation of trade union activity
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    10 votes for, 0 votes against, between 2015–2017

    Consistently voted for reducing capital gains tax
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    7 votes for, 0 votes against, in 2016

    Consistently voted for reducing the rate of corporation tax
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    9 votes for, 0 votes against, between 2015–2016

    Consistently voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities
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    3 votes for, 0 votes against, in 2016

    Consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change
    Show votes
    0 votes for, 12 votes against, 1 absence, between 2016–2020

    Voted against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods
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    0 votes for, 1 vote against, in 2018

    Consistently voted against a publicly owned railway system
    Show votes
    0 votes for, 3 votes against, in 2016

    So basically against human rights, against the environment/saving the planet & for pollution so rich people can make more money,against equality, against helping the most vulnerable in society, against trade unions standing up for peoples rights, for rich people evading paying appropriate levels of tax, for snooping into every facet of people’s personal lives, for keeping public transport in the hands of rich franchises fleecing the public with constant fare rises for abysmal service & performance-rather than putting it back in public hands, for starving children.

    This guy has had three bites of the cherry & has shown what he is by his behaviour, his arrogant demeanour, his proclamations in parliament & on television/in the media, his abysmal voting record against the interests of the majority who have kept electing him, his trying to make himself the victim over the expenses scandal/trial etc. Time to get him out of office in 2021.

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