Argyll and Bute council clamp down on nine-year-old girl's blog
15 June 2012
A young girl who wrote a blog about her school dinners has been commanded to stop by her local council.
Martha Payne, a nine-year-old schoolgirl in Argyll, West Scotland, attracted attention from across the globe for her blog on her school dinners, a project she started with her father. NeverSeconds attracted over two million hits since Martha began writing it on April 30th.
The blog rated her opinion of her food out of ten on a “food-o-meter” and included pictures of her meals. Martha’s blog had raised almost £2000 for the charity Mary’s Meals, and garnered support from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has campaigned for a long time for more nutritious school dinners
However, in a post from yesterday, Martha explained that she had been called from a Maths lesson by her headteacher, who explained that she was not allowed to take photos of her school dinners anymore.
Martha’s father, Dave, added that he had contacted Argyll and Bute Council, who confirmed that the decision to stop her taking pictures had been theirs. He also said that her school, who he declines to name, had been “brilliant and supportive” of her blog.
The council took the decision after a picture from the blog of Martha with reputable chef Nick Nairn ended up in the Daily Record, under the headline “Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies”.
The council’s decision has received widespread condemnation, with many messages of support appearing in the comments of her most recent post. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Martha’s father pointed out that Martha had rated her most recent meal “10 out of 10”.
Nick Nairn added his support for Martha, criticising the newspaper headline that led to the council’s decision while condemning the council’s “short-sighted” decision. “All the way through this she has been incredibly fair and now she's been punished for something that she had no hand in whatsoever, and that makes me cross.”
Michael Russell, Education Secretary for Scotland, has written to the council requesting that they reverse the decision.
Argyll and Bute Council have since released a statement this morning, explaining that their decision was made to protect catering staff, who had been made to fear for their jobs by the widespread coverage of Martha’s blog. The statement added that the council strongly felt that “the information presented in [the blog] misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils”.