A POLITICAL row broke out at a recent county meeting over whether the council should serve meat less often at Shire Hall, with some fearing the move could lead to the creation of a “pork pie police”.
Shire Hall bosses want a new catering and procurement policy that aims to source county and seasonal produce as well as increasing the plant base meal options for its staff.
Gloucestershire County Councillors approved a motion on November 8 proposed by Forest-based Green Party councillor Beki Hoyland (Blakeney and Bream), which also calls for nutritious and balanced options along with the use of recyclable packaging and utensils.
However, the original proposals had included a suggestion to provide better quality meat but served less frequently.
A friendly amendment from the Conservatives simply makes reference to good quality meat being offered.
This sparked concerns among some Labour councillors who said they could no longer support the motion.
Councillor Wendy Thomas (L, Dursley), who has been a vegetarian for more than 48 years, said her group is in favour of sustainable procurement around food in the county.
But they were really disappointed about the Tory amendment which watered down the motion removing any mention of serving meat less frequently.
“Consumption and production of meat is a substantial contributor to climate change and is responsible for roughly a third of the UK’s diet related carbon emissions.
“Study after study, news article after news article, from Nature magazine, Scientific American, the BBC, Guardian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the New York Times, the World Wildlife Foundation, the United Nations, and the Green Party’s own website provide overwhelming evidence.
“The one essential and easy thing we can do as individuals to help the environment is to eat less meat.”
Councillor Tim Harman (C, Lansdown and Park) said listening to what some of the Labour members were saying he thought they were going to introduce a “pork pie police”.
He asked: “How do you even enforce the fact that someone could smuggle pork pies or a bacon sandwich into this building?
“Are they going to face disciplinary action for sitting there eating their pork pie?
“Quite clearly as a former public health cabinet member I entirely endorse the idea of promoting healthy eating. That’s all worth doing, but I’m afraid personal choice must still be there.
“If we don’t give them options in this building they’ll toddle over the road into one of the shops.”
Councillor Joe Harris (LD, Cirencester Beeches) said there are huge issues affecting the county such as the NHS being in crisis and schools which need urgent investment.
He felt spending 30 minutes debating a ban on meat was a waste of time.
“We’ve got the Conservatives and the Green Party today bringing a motion talking about banning bangers and prohibiting pork.
“We’ve just spent the last half an hour talking about food. We should be talking about the issues that matter to local people.
He said he agreed with the sentiment of the motion but questioned whether it should have been discussed in a full council meeting.
Councillor Beki Hoyland said it was important for the authority to look at its inhouse food and drink offer to make sure they are practising what they preach.
She said: “Food is the basis of human health and wellbeing. The bedrock of existence in society. A basic necessity for us all. It’s worth getting right.
“I know the caterers, who have worked so hard to produce our food we are going to be having soon, want to feed us well.
“The aim of this motion is to support them to do that. To give them the tools and support they need to make decisions which have a positive impact.
“To be part of a move towards a more vibrant and sustainable local food based economy that will make us and the planet healthier.”
A total of 38 councillors voted in favour of the motion while four voted against and there were ten abstentions. The council will consult its staff to produce a policy for catering and procurement for council events in due course.