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Council Overturns School Meal Blog Ban

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Nine year old Martha Payne will continue to be able to post pictures of her school meals after outrage

Argyll and Bute Council has lifted a ban that prevented a nine-year-old girl from photographing her school meals and posting them on her blog.

Martha Payne’s NeverSeconds blog has proved a global hit, receiving more than two million hits in just a few weeks, but she was banned by the council after local press coverage led to catering staff fearing for their jobs.

However, this ban was today rescinded after council leader Roddy McCuish instructed senior officials to act immediately.

Fund raiser

Payne began publishing photos of her lunches at Lochgilphead Primary School on 30 April, rating them on a ‘food-o-meter’ scale, health and mouthfuls required to eat it. It originally started as a writing project with her father and she had been using it to raise mony for Mary’s Meal charity, which helps feed some of the poorest children in the world.

“This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office,” she wrote in a blog post yesterday. “I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.”

“I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos,” she added. “I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.”

Outrage

The council justified its ban on the grounds that it “misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils.” It had refrained from criticising the blog previously, but said it was forced to act due to the “distress and harm” it was causing.

“In particular, the photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen,” the council said in a statement.

The decision to censor the blog sparked outrage among readers of the blog, local politicians and Twitter users, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who tweeted his support for Payne.

However, she will still be able to blog after McCuish admitted that the council should have raised its objections with the newspaper in question, not the blog.

One positive of the whole incident is the money raised for Mary’s Meals charity, which now totals £20,000, having stood at £2,000 on Thursday night.

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