TOWN hall leaders are set to meet with headteachers to discuss exactly how all 12,000 primary schoolchildren will get a free breakfast.
Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, yesterday unveiled his ambitious £700,000 scheme, which will see pupils throughout the town be given free cereal, toast, fruit juice and milk at school.
It will initially be a three month pilot – starting in January – but is expected to become permanent.
But just what time children will need to arrive at school and which staff will be on duty are yet to be decided.
Coun Blackburn said: “There will be a variety of different solutions for different schools, depending on how many staff they have, what time the kids come in, and what the catering facilities are like. So it will be tailored to each individual school because we’ve a lot of different ones with different demographics.
“There are a lot of discussions to be had to make it work but we are determined it will because at the moment we’ve got an awful lot of pupils that either don’t get any food at all, or don’t get anything near the right food.”
There have been concerns the £700,000 required to fund the plan will hit the taxpayer.
Coun Blackburn insists that would not be the case and says the money will be “re-prioritised” within the leisure and operations department, which covers school catering as well as areas like recycling, cemeteries, parks and sports centres.
Coun Blackburn added: “We’ve already earmarked the £700,000 we need for the pilot. That’s in the bank. It’s a question then of how we take it forward. We are looking to get sponsorship and we’re talking to a number of well-known suppliers of breakfast produce
“But what I can say is that at no point will this impinge on the council taxpayer. We aren’t going to be putting anyone’s bills up to pay for this. We will find it within existing resources.”
The free school breakfast marks the first big initiative from Revitalising Blackpool, a taskforce set up to help rid the resort of its problems.
Coun Blackburn says the scheme is a question of being fair to all residents.
He said: “Parents who are on benefits already get free school meals and free school milk.
“What I’m concerned about is the people just above that line, the people who are not in receipt of sufficient state benefits.
“If that’s the case and you’ve got three kids and you put them all in a school breakfast club, you are looking at paying £45 a week. Then it is another £10 to £15 per child per term for milk.
“The kids on benefits get milk because they are entitled to it, but an awful lot of the other kids don’t because it is just an extra expense parents can’t afford.
“I want to change that and make sure every child gets the same opportunity.”
Click here to read how The Gazette broke the story: