A PETITION to get a local MP to reverse her stance against free school meals has almost reached its goal just a week after its creation.

Last week Miriam Cates, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, was the only Barnsley MP to vote against the proposed plans to provide vouchers to struggling families across the region.

A total of 318 Conservative MPs voted against the plans which were led by Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford - who became an MBE in the most recent Queen’s birthday honours list.

A resident of Miriam’s constituency, Alex Burnett, started a petition last week in a bid to get her to change her stance on the issue, and it has reached 387 signatures - almost the 500 target.

Alex, 30, told the Chronicle: “Miriam Cates’ decision to vote against plans to stop 7,500 children going hungry in Barnsley shows what little regard she has for families.

“Barnsley Council deserves praise and so do all the different businesses that are helping out, but that shouldn’t be needed.

“Miriam Cates should be looking after her own constituency - Penistone is quite an affluent part of the town and it’s shocking that so many people are living in poverty.

“Her decision to side with the government is completely against the needs of her constituency.”

According to statistics from End Child Poverty, there are 3,274 children living in poverty in Penistone and Stocksbridge - meaning more than 20 per cent of children in the area are classed in the bracket.

“The petition was made to put pressure on her to change her decision,” Alex added.

“It’s not just a political agenda either, other MPs in theConservative Party voted against the government because they’re doing what’s best for the children - it should be a simple vote to make.

We’re quite close to 400 signatures now and once it has a reasonable amount of support I will forward it onto her - I think that people will remember this in the future and she needs to stand for people in Penistone and Stocksbridge.”

However, Ms Cates believes that the free schools meals were only proposed as a ‘temporary solution’ to the issue of child poverty, hence why she voted against the motion.

A spokesperson on her behalf added: “She continues to believe that we need to take a wider approach to tackle poverty, especially child poverty and she is pleased that the government has committed more money to local authorities, holiday food and activity schemes to help achieve this.”

The link for the petition can be found on the Barnsley Chronicle website.