Ban On Martha Payne's NeverSeconds School Meals Blog Lifted By Argyll And Bute Council

Council Withdraw Ban On School Meals Blogger

A council has lifted its ban on a nine-year-old pupil from taking pictures of her school meals after a national outcry over the move.

Argyll and Bute announced that they would be withdrawing their ban on Martha Payne taking pictures for her NeverSeconds blog during an interview with the BBC.

The nine-year-old had been prevented from taking pictures, essentially stopping her from blogging after a headline in Scottish paper the Daily Record which featured a photo of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline "Time to fire the dinner ladies..."

A statement from Argyll and Bute council said there was "no room for censorship" and so Martha would be allowed to continue taking her pictures.

However the statement from Councillor Roddy McCuish lambasted the "abusive and inaccurate" reporting of the paper saying that it "considerably inflamed the situation."

He said a "united way forward" was needed. He said: "I am going to bring together our catering staff, the pupils, councillors and council officials - to ensure that the council continues to provide healthy, nutrious and attractive school meals.

"That 'School Meals Summit' will take place later this summer."

Martha Payne's NeverSeconds blog became an internet sensation

On Thursday, Martha uploaded a farewell post, titled "Goodbye" which read:

"This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. 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. 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.



Her father, Dave Payne, added a comment underneath his daughter's final post, saying the school had been "brilliant and supportive" throughout Martha's blog and he would "like to thank them all".

"It is a shame that a blog that today went through 2 million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly £2000 for charity is forced to end."

Martha had previously been backed by celebrity chef and do-gooder Jamie Oliver, who tweeted: "Shocking but inspirational blog. Keep going. Big love from Jamie x".

The school dinner photos published on NeverSeconds included an "alright" slice of pizza, a smattering of sweetcorn and a lonely potato croquette.

"I'd have enjoyed more than 1 croquet," Martha bemoaned. "I'm a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette. Do any of you think you could?"

Another post consisted of two croquettes, a pitifully-sized cheeseburger, one ice lolly and three pieces of cucumber.

"Today's meal was on the menu as Cheeseburger and ice cream/biscuit but as you can see I got an ice lolly," Martha said. "I prefer ice cream. I wish they had stuck to the menu. I did get 2 croquettes though only 3 pieces of cucumber when I said no thanks to the peas.

"The good thing about this blog is Dad understands why I am hungry when I get home. Today he made a Banana Loaf, shame I don't like bananas, see I am not perfect!"

The council said that it had asked Martha to stop taking pictures as it "wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service".

According to the council, catering staff at the school feared for their jobs. A statement released by the council read:

"The Council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the ‘never seconds’ blog for obvious reasons despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils however this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from 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."

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