Fear of ‘pork pie police’ in row over council staff's meat consumption

Councils have clashed over the topic of meat consumption. Credit: PA

A debate has formed around levels of meat consumption in Gloucestershire County Council.

Gloucestershire County Council approved a motion on 8 November by the Green Party which also calls for nutritious and balanced food options along with the use of recyclable packaging and utensils.

The original proposals included a suggestion to provide better quality meat but served less frequently.

An amendment from the Conservatives makes reference to good quality meat being offered, but no mention of serving meat less frequently. 

This sparked concerns among some Labour councillors who said they could no longer support the motion.

Councillor Wendy Thomas (Labour, 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.

She said: “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.

“The one essential and easy thing we can do as individuals to help the environment is to eat less meat.”

Councillor Tim Harman (Conservative, 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”.

Councillor Tim Harman said: “Are they going to face disciplinary action for sitting there eating their pork pie?" Credit: Gloucestershire County Council

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 (Lib Dem, Cirencester Beeches) said debating a ban on meat was a waste of time.

He said: “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 (Green, Blakeney and Bream), who proposed the motion, said it was important for the authority to look at its in-house 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 the 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 10 abstentions. The council will consult its staff to produce a policy for catering and procurement for council events in due course.