An attempt by North Ayrshire Labor to raid council reserves to help struggling families over Christmas has been resoundingly rejected.
Councilor Nairn McDonald introduced a motion condemning the “Scrooge-like” SNP for not having Wrap, Run and Fun holiday meals for children over the October and Christmas break.
A voucher replacement of £10 per week was offered for the mainland and £20 for the islands. That, the Labor adviser said, was a 50 per cent cut from what his administration gave during the pandemic.
He argued in a motion at last Wednesday’s full council meeting that the earmarked reserves should be used to reintroduce the planned original sum.
Councilor McDonald said: “I’m amazed we can’t agree on weaning this Christmas. Food prices are skyrocketing.
“Last year, vegetable oil and pasta grew by 65% and 60% respectively and bread by 25%. This is further pushing people to hunger and increasing pressure on pantries and food banks.
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“I cannot understand how the Conservatives and opposition SNP are unwilling to put their myopia aside and use a relatively small proportion of their services to put some padding between families and devastation this Christmas.
“Child underworkers used to get £4 a day each, but now it’s £2.
“The choice is whether, like Scrooge, we seek redemption and nurture our children, or we seek to pass our time with the clichés of Christmas past, present and future. I prefer to feed the children.
Tory leader Tom Marshall proposed an amendment, saying no action should be taken to use up £145,000 of reserves.
He said: “The Labor group wants to plunder the reserves that we have left. I don’t think it’s wise to choose what we spend.
Deputy Chief Shaun Macaulay said: ‘It’s not a competition to see who knows the most people living in poverty. We are all well aware of the magnitude of the needs.
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“Since entering administration, we have sought to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and we have also looked at the things we can do to prevent people from getting into this situation in the first place.
“The SNP administration has approved a £4 million support package to help those most in need during this crisis.
“As part of this, it was clear that families needed help and we have increased child transition payments by £100 per eligible child. We’ve extended it to low-income families and preschoolers. This supported 5,700 children and 3,300 families.
“We are committed to paying this in time for summer vacation and October vacation.”
Labour, he said, should stop thinking about its next press release and focus on helping people.
The amendment was adopted by 23 votes to 8.
Speaking after the debate, Councilor McDonald said: ‘It was absolutely appalling to sit and watch the leader of the Tory group put forward an amendment in which he called the proposals to feed the children a ‘pilferage of money but what was even more disappointing was looking at every SNP. The Councilor then votes with the Conservatives.
“While North Ayrshire Labor put forward a motion in good faith, a motion that would have helped thousands of families, the SNP and the Tories have once again joined forces to defeat another progressive motion.”