COUNCIL leaders have locked horns over the issue of free breakfasts for Blackpool schoolchildren.
Tory leader Coun Tony Williams suggested at a meeting of Blackpool Council last night phasing out the scheme at the end of its trial periods and instead replacing it with non-compulsory breakfast clubs.
However, council leader Coun Simon Blackburn stood by his ground-breaking project, and said the breakfast menu was being changed – with sugar-filled cereal bars being removed.
Coun Williams told the meeting he was in favour of a breakfast scheme for pupils, but added: “What I don’t support is condoning laziness and neglect which is happening by taking away the responsibility from the parents to look after their own children.
“I’m delighted to hear that sugar filled cereal bars are being phased out, that’s a step in the right direction.
“I support the free breakfasts scheme and I said at the beginning it’s a good idea, but it needs managing. Can I urge the leader of the council when this trial period has finished to look into breakfast clubs.”
Coun Williams suggested the breakfast clubs would be optional and parents would pay a nominal sum for children to attend.
The council launched the £700,000, three-month pilot scheme earlier this month which sees all of the town’s 12,000 primary school pupils offered free breakfasts in a bid to boost achievement.
Coun Blackburn said the scheme had been well received across the resort, including Coun Williams’ own ward of Anchorsholme.
He said: “I believe this is (Coun Williams’) third position on breakfasts and I now understand him to be saying he supports it.
“He doesn’t want to reward lazy or irresponsible parents but I can tell you that this week at Anchorsholme Primary School the take up of free breakfasts was 100 per cent.”