A TOWN councillor who stood to be Middlewich’s MP in last year’s election is protesting Fiona Bruce’s decision to vote against free school meals.

The Conservative MP for Congleton was one of 322 MPs to vote against the move last week, which followed the high-profile campaign from Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

Cllr Jo Dale, a town councillor in Alsager, stood against Mrs Bruce for Labour in last December’s General Election.

She led a protest outside Mrs Bruce’s office in Congleton on Monday afternoon, sticking up paper plates and holding signs with messages about hunger, and calling on the Government to reconsider.

Cllr Dale said: “Fiona Bruce's decision to vote against the extension of free school meals shows utter contempt for vulnerable children in this constituency.

“Let's remember that more than 20 per cent of children in Congleton constituency live in poverty.

“Times are tough right now – with huge job losses, wage cuts and instability for the future – these are not normal times and extending free school meal vouchers into school holidays is a direct way to help vulnerable children.

Winsford Guardian:

Some of the messages on paper plates placed outside Mrs Bruce's office

“It should have been done in a heartbeat – Fiona has shown a complete lack of empathy and compassion by voting against this.”

Had the vote gone the other way in Parliament last week, free school meal vouchers would have been provided by Government throughout this week and in the Christmas holidays.

In the days since, businesses and community groups have instead stepped up to the mark, providing meals and packed lunches for vulnerable children this week.

Cllr Dale added: “Marcus Rashford's campaign has been absolutely incredible – but it shouldn’t take a footballer to shame the government into doing the right thing.

“The government have talked about levelling up, but their actions show the opposite.

“The outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming with businesses, community groups and organisations all springing into action to help.

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“Businesses have also had it very tough this year and again it shouldn’t be left to them and their amazing community spirit to help plug this gap.”

The Guardian has approached Mrs Bruce for comment.