ROMSEY'S MP has reacted to the Government's U-turn over providing free meals to disadvantaged children during the Christmas holidays.

As reported, Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoned England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford on Saturday to alert him to the decision to lay on £170million of extra funding for the measure.

It comes after Conservative Caroline Nokes rejected Labour’s motion on October 22, which called for the scheme to be extended over the school holidays until Easter 2021 and was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – a majority of 61 for the Government.

Now, Ms Nokes has said: "None of us want to see children go hungry and I really welcome the strategy the Government has brought forward. I have consistently said I thought vouchers were a bad way to deliver assistance.

"The targeted programmes envisaged from this new funding are absolutely the right way to go.

"During half term, I visited the Community Pantry at Romsey School and over the holidays they have run programmes for families about improving cooking skills, providing recipes and meal deals for those who are struggling at the current time."

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Romsey Advertiser: MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline NokesMP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline Nokes

She added: "I have made it clear to all constituents who have been in touch that the non-legislative motion put forward 48 hours before half term would have helped nobody, whereas the £30,000 given by Test Valley Borough Council to the Community Pantry at half term provided practical assistance.

"This new funding will see more of that which is really good news."

Dorothy Baverstock, a Lib Dem who represents Romsey Cupernham ward on the borough council, said she was delighted by the Government's U-turn.

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She said: "I am so glad now the Government had a change of heart, they realise that not all families are rich, and a lot of them are below the breadline, not on it.

"I was so upset with [the initial decision] and what we did was put an application to the town council to donate £725, so they could provide extras for children, such as food.

"Romsey Extra Parish Council also gave £750, so we were putting our money where our mouth was, and I think local people would appreciate that we used some of our money to support families in the area."