"900k would pay for a meal every day of the year for almost 500 families in need in this city. I want Boris Johnson to tell those families why he thinks it's better to repaint a plane than to ensure they can eat.” Anna Smith, Romsey City Councillor and Executive Councillor for Communities
Labour City Councillors have reacted angrily to the news that Boris Johnson is spending £900,000 of public money on repainting the Prime Ministerial plane, which arrived at Marshall Airport yesterday ready for work to start.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the City Council, said;
“When the Government refuses to reimburse local councils for the additional spending we have had to make as a result of COVID-19, it’s an absolute outrage to hear of the Prime Minister’s plans to commission the repainting of a plane that he can’t actually use at the moment. We’re having to rethink budgets while Boris Johnson is wasting public money.”
While we appreciate the benefit locally of a project that helps keep local people in work, we challenge the fact that the Government is spending £900,000 on the Prime Minister’s plane at a time when he refuses to reimburse local councils for the extra millions we are spending as a result of the epidemic – at the Government’s instruction. Why should councils across Britain, like Cambridge, be forced by the Prime Minister to cut millions from our other budgets during a national crisis while he is squandering public money changing the colours of a plane he can’t even use currently.”
Since the news broke yesterday, councillors have been calculating what the £900,000 could alternatively be used for in Cambridge. They estimate that the money would buy;
- 1 meal a day for a whole year for almost 500 families in food poverty
- 5 months’ accommodation for 120 rough sleepers brought in during COVID-19
- 5 new council houses
- 5 x the whole cost of the city’s Tree Canopy project
- 3 electric bin lorries
- major upgrades to the market square
- almost the entire Community Grants scheme for a whole year
Cllr Anna Smith, Deputy Leader and Executive Councillor for Communities, expressed her frustration at the Prime Minister’s claim that it would boost national morale when thousands of families across the country are finding it hard to make ends meet;
“Over this crisis, so many people are struggling. They are out of work or fearful for their jobs, and often worried about where their next meal is coming from.
Our city has worked incredibly hard to provide hundreds of meals for those in food poverty. The city council, local charities, volunteers, local businesses and mutual aid groups have come together to ensure that no-one goes hungry. Everyone has dug deep, and every penny counts. To hear that the government is spending 900,000 to repaint a plane is a kick in the teeth to everyone who is struggling, and to everyone who is doing their best to help.
900k would pay for a meal every day of the year for almost 500 families in need in this city. I want Boris Johnson to tell those families why he thinks it’s better to repaint a plane than to ensure they can eat.”