EMPTY plates were left outside of Sutton's Conservatives offices in response to the government's refusal to extend free school meals over half term. 

The peaceful protest, which took place yesterday (October 26), aimed to express frustration over Paul Scully's and Elliot Colburn's "heartless" response to children in need. 

On October 22, the government defeated a Labour motion to extend free school meals provision in England over the holidays, despite a huge campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

Sutton MP Paul Scully voted against the motion after stating, "children have been going hungry under a Labour government for years." 

Whilst Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, didn't vote. 

MORE: No apology from Tory MP Paul Scully after free school meal comments

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Formed by residents through Facebook, demonstrators wrote messages on plates such as, 'starve a kid, save a quid' and 'you get a pay rise while the kids go hungry'.

Speaking on why he joined the protest, resident Mr Vestey said: "During the first lockdown, my wife and I undertook countless hours of food drives and fundraising as well as organising the community response to covid. 

"We saw first hand the knock-on effects of not just coronavirus but also our government's policies over the last decade.

"The rise in foodbank use was larger than we ever understood and to see school meals not be extended to children in need whilst billions are being misspent is truly shocking."

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One resident said:

To remove support to the most vulnerable in the midst of a global pandemic is not supporting local kids, it’s abandoning them."

Another resident said: "We'd much rather see our taxes covering free school meals for children in poverty, than subsidise food and alcohol for MPs in posh bars and restaurants in Parliament."

In response, Elliot Colburn said he understands the importance of free school meals. 

He said: "Growing up and going to school in St Helier, I know the value of free school meals, and how important it is. 

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"This is why I am pleased that the Government has already provided £63m to local Councils to help ensure eligible children continue to receive this support for food and other essentials in the school holidays.

"I am also pleased that, after calls from Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tom Drummond, Sutton Council has now confirmed that children eligible for free school meals will continue to be supported."

There is still more work to do, and I have already raised the need for support over Christmas, and longer-term support during and after the Covid-19 crisis, with Ministers."

Elliot Colburn went onto say that any residents who would like to receive a full response are welcome to email him. 

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Paul Scully said: "Tackling holiday hunger is hugely important. The debate is how we address it. 

"Giving low-income parents across the country £20pw extra directly into their pockets through a £9bn increase in welfare; enabling local authorities to make targeted interventions through a dedicated £63m fund including £171,000 to Sutton, to cover a time period including half term and helping to protect as many livelihoods as possible through £200bn of support is the way I believe is more effective than a blanket voucher scheme.

"Free school meals continue during term time ensuring a good hot meal for children at school which we know aids learning. 

"We now need to start working on support for Christmas and beyond as we learn to live with the virus."