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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 May 2007

SCHOOL MEALS - VICTORY!

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

Press release from a Waltham Forest campaign against cuts to school meals.

After three short weeks of campaigning that seriously rattled councillors, the Leader Clyde Loakes yesterday offered to extend the school meals subsidy at least until 2009. In our books that is an unequivocal victory.

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts tro school meals. Press release

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts tro school meals. Press release

And what a marvellous campaign! In a few short weeks thousands of leaflets distributed around schools alerted everyone to the danger of losing a properly funded school meals service. The local press helped to arouse indignation from all quarters - and not only parents! London Radio carried it and the national press and TV started investigating. Then Jamie Oliver pledged to get involved.

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

But the pots and pans demo was the icing on the cake. Around 250 dinner ladies, teachers, parents, children and supporters gathered in the town square armed with pans, tin lids and wooden spoons, rattles and whistles, determined to make as much noise as possible. We marched along Hoe Street all chanting. "If you want to keep school dinners - bang a pan". A young education worker with an Asian drum joined in. Passers-by and shopkeepers took leaflets and cheered us on.

At the town hall everyone was in no mood for compromise. From his office Loakes said he would meet with a delegation of only three! For several tense minutes there was a real stand-off. Eventually, accompanied by deputy leader Keith Rayner he came out onto the steps. A truly Big Conversation took place. With demands and questions from a sceptical but elated crowd, he promised

> A continuation of the subsidy until 2009
> To bring the 10 schools, already opted out, back into the fold
> A strong steer to schools to remain part of Waltham Forest Catering
Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

There was a further demand to run all private catering companies out of the borough! This he baulked at (naturally, it's part of Labour policy).

But we are not standing down the campaign. We intend to monitor the situation closely. We need to hold all Cllr Loakes' promises to account. Union members in each school need to be vigilant and report any developments through the campaign network. Fundamentally our success has been due to two things - the determination of the unions involved UNISON and NUT, who represent thousands of workers in the borough, and the marvellous response from parents and the general public. If we have helped councillors change their minds once through serious campaigning - we can do it again. Come and help us.

Hands Off School Meals 7pm Tuesday 5th June Town Hall, Forest Road, E17 All Welcome

If you DO nothing you get nothing. If you FIGHT TOGETHER, you get something.

WE WANT money spent on

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals, photo Paul Mattsson

Pot and Pans demonstration in Waltham Forest against cuts to school meals. Linda Taaffe adresses the demo, photo Paul Mattsson

> GOOD FOOD FOR OUR KIDS

> MAINTAINING THE SUBSIDY TO THE CATERING SERVICE

> MORE KITCHEN STAFF ON DECENT WAGES

NOT spent on

> EXORBITANT CONSULTANTS' FEES

> OUTLANDISH COUNCILLORS' ALLOWANCES

> PROFITS FOR PRIVATE CATERING COMPANIES

Linda Taaffe

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In The Socialist 26 May 2007:

Public-sector workers say...Fight Brown's pay freeze

PCS: Public-sector unity to defend jobs and services

National Shop Stewards Network

Postal workers' strike ballot: Vote 'yes' for a future

Darling attacks Post Offices

Greenwich workers shame councillors


Labour Party leadership

Gordon Brown crowned leader with no contest

John McDonnell speaks to the socialist

The alternative to Labour

MPs say stop looking at us!


Education

Academies: No to these divisive schools

Lewisham council attacks education

School meals - Victory!

Canteen workers oppose school meals cuts

School campaigners shake Wokingham


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Nursing staff strike shows way forward


Socialist Party news and analysis

Homophobia: it's not over

Letter to Polish Ambassador


Marxist analysis: history

Belfast 1907 - a city in revolt


Environment and socialism

Can solar power solve our energy needs?


Scotland

SNP in power - populism and cuts


 

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