CONSERVATIVE councillors want to see the vegan meals served at monthly council meetings scrapped in order to donate the saved money.

Earlier this year Oxfordshire County Council adopted a policy to serve only plant-based at meetings to tackle climate change.

However, the Conservatives' group leader councillor Eddie Reeves brought forward a motion this week (November 01) called for all catering to be scrapped unless it is considered "essential".

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Speaking at the meeting, he said: “We don’t need to be fed. We receive £1,000 a month gross to do our jobs here - we do not need to be fed whether a vegan, carnivore, alternative or something in the middle.

“We should reprioritise catering unless it’s strictly essential say for a civic event particularly given that time and time again we’ve heard about the cost-of-living crisis which is deeply affecting residents across this county.

“Lets reprioritise the small amount of money we congregate at present to feed ourselves and feed more needy people.”

Councillor Kieron Mallon added: “Why should the public pay for us to have a nosebag of muesli sandwiches and vastly expensive imported fruit from all around the world? – They shouldn’t.

“I have been homeless. I was homeless as a teenager. I was homeless as a veteran. This [catering] is not essential. This should be donated to the homeless.”

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However, the council’s leader Liz Leffman said only £6,000 is spent on catering per year compared to the ‘£2m brought in by the council’ to support residents.

She added that the £6,000 helps local businesses as the catering contract is with a Kidlington business which sources food from Woodstock.

She said “Are you seriously suggesting that we should, for the sake of appearances, take away a contract from a small business in our area and somehow donate to support residents of this county when we are doing a great deal ourselves?

"Businesses need to survive in this county, as well as individuals."

Labour councillor Glynis Phillips added: “I applaud the ingenuity of the party opposite to continue to find ways to prevent vegan meals being served at council meetings.

“Your group meetings most be a hive of creativity as you try and find different ways to scupper this initiative.

“I’m interested in knowing when catering is considered essential. I would argue that given the time that members are in these council meetings plus the pre meetings and considerable travelling time that catering is considered essential.

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“I also think that as 63 councillors who present all parts of Oxfordshire would miss the opportunity to sit down together and get to know each better and discuss the problems that faces our residents.”

The motion failed with 37 votes against and only 17 votes for.  


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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