It has not been the best of weeks for Hastings MP Sally-Ann Hart.
Her support for the the government’s position not to extend the provision of free school meals for the most needy children through the half term holiday has seen her banned from one St Leonards pub and also seen the emergence of the social media hashtag #hartless.
Now six members of Hastings Borough Council have written to Mrs Hart and to the Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council (ESCC) Keith Glazier making their feelings known.
Baird ward Councillors Warren Davies and Mike Turner along with Councillors Ruby Cox and Trevor Webb from Central St Leonards and Councillors Paul Barnet and Maya Evans from Hollington Ward say: “We write as the borough councillors in Hastings of some of the wards with the highest densities of child poverty in the UK to express our disappointment at the failure of both of you to show the courage and leadership necessary, during this crisis, to guarantee every child, in our wards, a meal every day.
“Not content to fail us once, Ms Hart, you have failed the children of our town thrice: first failing to lobby your government to support Marcus Rashford, second by voting against the Labour motion on October 21st and finally by seeking to defend your position with words as parsimonious as your actions.
“Councillor Glazier, you have directly abandoned our most vulnerable children to be hungry and thus attended upon by the emissaries of future illness and stunted life chances. You had the power, with a phone call, as the leader of ESCC, to extend free school meals during the school holidays.
“How are either of you ‘levelling-up’ for the most vulnerable if they are denied the basic necessity of food security? Over 100 years ago, when fighting to introduce free school meals, this is what David Lloyd-George, future wartime prime minister, had to say about the attitudes of the Conservatives opposing him. You, by your actions, have made these words equally true today: ‘There are many in this Country blessed by Providence with great wealth and if there are among them people who grudge out of their riches a fair contribution towards the less fortunate then they are very shabby rich people.‘
“We will finish this open letter with a celebration for our network of local business people, our local charities and faith organisations and particularly our hospitality sector, who despite fearing for their own economic survival are still reaching out to provide meals for our children. To all of these champions in our community we give our sincerest thanks.”
Meanwhile the landlord of the Marina Fountain in St Leonards took to social media to tell Mrs Hart she was banned from the pub writing: “Dear Sally-Ann Hart MP, we would like to follow suit of some of our fellow publicans and offer this message of unwelcome.
“For continuing to vote, promote and justify nearly everything we stand against you’re now officially barred from the premises. A clear message has been sent by the hospitality sector in Hastings and across the country, you’re in the minority! And you do not speak for us.
“Pubs across this town and the country are pulling together to be the key part of the community they always have been and to help in a perilous time for themselves those less fortunate. We will be donating this week to our local primary school St Leonards C of E’s hardship fund, giving support and help to those that need it the most.
“We will also be taking collections at the bar if you would like to contribute and our staff are kindly donating their tips. Please let this be a sign of how utterly wrong you have yet again got it. May the best thing you do in your post be uniting the town against you.”