Posts Tagged ‘Argyll and Bute council’

NeverSeconds exceeds nine million hits

December 31, 2012
Martha's younger sister playing with the kids

Martha’s younger sister Polly playing with the kids

Martha relaxing after handing out backpacks

Martha relaxing after handing out backpacks

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

Martha is such an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a difference. She’s a true hero. — Jamie Oliver

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. — Paulo Coelho

An amazing year for Martha Payne, who who eight months ago as a nine-year old Scottish schoolgirl set up a food blog to rate her school dinners. Little did she know what the year would bring.

Although she set up her blog NeverSeconds at the end of April, her first real post was early May. That first entry saw over 35,000 visits to her blog.

A blog that was well written, thoughtful. Something for everyone to be proud of. Not though Argyll and Bute Council. Instead of highlighting her as an example of the high standard of education in Scotland, they lied, they smeared the family and bully-boys at the council tried to shut her blog down.

They picked on the wrong person. Martha stood firm. She was honoured by Liberty for standing up for free speech.

Argyll and Bute Council have still to apologise for bullying a nine-year-old schoolgirl, for lying, for smearing a decent family.

Not content with writing about her school dinners she shared her blog with others. She invited schoolchildren from around the world to write guest blogs. When they did, they only served to emphasise how disgusting were the school dinners in Scotland. She inspired others to write blogs, to campaign for better conditions in their schools. She used her bog to raise money via Mary’s Meals for schoolchildren in Malawi.

Martha was invited to Malawi to inaugurate a school kitchen for which she had raised the money. She and her family travelled to Malawi.

With her father David, Martha has co-authored a book NeverSeconds which documents her eventful year. For each copy sold, 25 meals for Malawi.

Shame on Waterstone’s, a disgrace as a bookshop chain, better described as a chain that sells books, for failing to have NeverSeconds on display, whose staff have not a clue.

Martha is not the only person to be treated in a disgraceful manner by Waterstone’s. Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho got the same treatment last year when he released Aleph.

Martha has featured in most of the year end reviews for 2012.

As the year draws to a close, Cargo Publishing are to be praised for their generosity in making NeverSeconds available for download at 99p. In reality this is a donation of 25 meals to Malawi with a free copy of NeverSeconds.

As the minutes drain away from the final hours of 2012, what better way to thank Martha than to see her blog pass nine million visits.

Martha is the good news story of 2012. Please tell all your friends.

Well done Martha. We are all very proud of you. Every award you received during the year was well and truly deserved.

Never let it be said one person cannot achieve a lot. This is what Martha achieved in 2012. What are you going to achieve in 2013?

NeverSeconds: Argyll and Bute Council yet to apologise

December 31, 2012
Sally Loudon, the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council not in talkative mood in Oban Times

Sally Loudon, the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council not in talkative mood in Oban Times

Argyll and Bute Council tried to bully a nine-year-old schoolgirl. Luckily she was made of sterner stuff and stood her ground.

Sally Loudon, Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council, should resign for coordinating abuse of Martha and her family.

Questions Sally Loudon, Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council, has yet to answer:

Not only a bunch of liars, cowards too.

A Freedom of Information served on Argyll and Bute Council would be quite revealing.

There needs to be an in-depth independent investigation of Argyll and Bute Council, heads should roll.

It must be their idea of a sick joke, on the front of their website: Realising our potential together.

Martha and her family had high media profile, powerful backers, Martha was prepared to stand firm against the bully-boys and liars at Argyll and Bute Council. Pause and reflect how others less able to defend themselves are treated by this dishonest and rotten council.

NeverSeconds, co-authored by Martha and David Payne, provides a detailed account of how they were treated by Argyll and Bute Council. Thanks to the generosity of Cargo Publishing, it is currently available for download from Amazon at 99p. Each copy downloaded, 25 meals for schoolchildren in Africa, via Mary’s Meals.

You may wish to tell Argyll and Bute Council what you think of their appalling behavaviour, why they think it is ok to behave in this manner, pose a few questions …

You may also wish to contact Roddy McCuish, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, and ask him was it OK the behaviour of his council officials, blatantly lying, bullying a nine-year-old schoolgirl, smearing a decent family …

Bullying of a nine-year-old girl is not acceptable

November 29, 2012

It wasn’t easy time for us. Amazed council still believes it has done nothing wrong. — David Payne

Growing increasingly annoyed reading NeverSeconds by stance of council trying to blame Martha. Poor show. — Bryan Gregg

The bullying of nine-year-old Martha Payne by a worthless jobsworth at Argyll and Bute Council and trying to silence her blog NeverSeconds, then compounding the wrong by lying and then when it could not get worse, defaming the family by accusing them of bad parenting, it totally and completely unacceptable.

The council has yet to formally apologise, or even accept they did anything wrong.

The editor of the Oban Times, is giving you the chance to have your say and via the paper question Argyll and Bute Council chief executive Sally Loudon who was responsible for this disgraceful behaviour by her officials.

I would though dispute the view of the editor that Argyll and Bute Council chief executive Sally Loudon is a person of influence, she is an overpaid public servant accountable to the public. Nor does she have overall responsibility for running the local authority, that is down to the councillors who exercise that role on behalf of their constituents. Though I accept like all overpaid public servants, she has an overinflated view of her own worth.

A few questions I would like to see answered:

If it is not acceptable for a playground bully to bully and intimidate a nine-year-old school girl, why is it deemed acceptable for a worthless jobsworth to bully a nine-year-old schoolgirl?

Bullying is not acceptable in the playground, bullying is not acceptable in the workplace.

What disciplinary action has been taken, not only for the bullying, but the subsequent treatment meted out to the family?

What made you think you could get away with it and brazen it out?

Why did the council lie? Why were the lies then covered up?

Why was it claimed this was an example of bad parenting?

Why have you yet to issue a formal apology to Martha Payne and her family?

Freedom of expression is a basic right enshrined in the Human Rights Act. For each decision taken by a public body, it has to be shown that the Human Rights Act was complied with, failure to do so is in itself an offence under the legislation. What steps were taken when bullying a nine-year-old school girl? In trying to silence a nine-year-old school girl was you not aware a breach of the Human Rights Act was taking place, namely denying freedom of expression?

What steps have you taken to improve the school meals your local authority serves? Was you not aware of the minimum standards recommended by Jamie Oliver? If not why not? And if you were, why were they not acted upon?

I have looked at the school meals your local authority serves and I find them disgusting. Should you not hang your head in shame?

Have you not looked at the blog NeverSeconds and seen how poorly the meals you serve compare with school meals around the world?

I wish to see published all internal memos, notes of meetings, e-mails that took place within your local authority surrounding this issue, the initial bullying of Martha Payne, treatment of her family, how media was to be dealt with and that surrounding the fall out. Please regard this as a formal Freedom of Information request.

Have you ordered copies of NeverSeconds such that every school library, every public library in Argyll and Bute has copies?

What compensation will you be paying Martha and her family, for bullying, defamation, and the stress you have caused?

I look forward to a prompt response to all my questions.

In the meantime you may care to note:

NeverSeconds has now recorded over 8.8 million hits. Through NeverSeconds Martha went on to raise over £120,000 for a school kitchen in Malawi called Friends of NeverSeconds, and was invited to Malawi to inaugurate the kitchen.

With the help of her father David, Martha has co-written a book NeverSeconds, which tells the story of her blog, standing firm against the bully-boys at her local council, the trip to Malawi.


June 15, 2012
School Dinner Blogger - 9 yr old Martha Payne from Argyll

School Dinner Blogger – 9 yr old Martha Payne from Argyll

Mary's Meals

Martha's school dinner

Martha’s school dinner

 The pizza was alright but I'd have enjoyed more than 1 croquet. 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?

The pizza was alright but I’d have enjoyed more than 1 croquet. 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? — Martha

My dad says I should call myself Veritas Ex Gustu, truth from tasting in Latin but who knows Latin? You can call me Veg. — Martha Payne

Shocking but inspirational blog. Keep going. Big love from Jamie x. — Jamie Oliver

Stay strong Martha. — Jamie Oliver

When children show initiative, you encourage them. You do not discourage. What you never do is punish.

When my young friend Alice asked me to show her how to set up a blog, I was only too happy to help her. She went home, and I was pleased to see within a couple of hours she had a blog alicemck up and running.

The food the British shovel into the mouths of children is a national disgrace. Taking children to the local McVomit is not a treat, it is child abuse.

The UK is suffering a national epidemic of childhood obesity. Kids are suffering from Type II diabetes, a disease of late middle age.

Jamie Oliver highlighted that school dinners are a national disgrace. When he visited a township in South Africa the women were shocked by what was served in England for school dinners.

School dinners are important. If children are not getting quality food their education suffers. What children eat, learning how to cook, a basic life skill, should form part of their education. For many children from poor families, school dinner is the only opportunity they have to eat a decent meal during the day.

A couple of years ago I was in an Italian tea shop in Alton. A couple of families were there with their children. The children were clearly enjoying their food.

I spoke with the children, and yes, they were enjoying their food. Their parents said they loved going there for a meal.

Nine-year-old Martha Payne writes a blog NeverSeconds about her school meals, she takes photos of her dinner and rates it.

An activity one would think she would be praised for, encouraged, thanks from a grateful local authority for providing useful feedback.

But oh no. The pathetic local jobsworth at Argyll and Bute council acting like the local Stasi banned her from taking photos of her school dinner. They issued a statement which was a vicious attack on a nine-year-old girl, had her called in to see her head teacher. If this is not school bullying I do not know what is. If nothing else it demonstrates the mindset of the local jobsworth.

This is what she wrote yesterday:


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.


plus an addition from her father:

Veg’s Dad, Dave, here. I felt it’s important to add a few bits of info to the blog tonight. Martha’s school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha’s photography.

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.

Dave Payne

Children only get one chance at an education. What they say matters!

Nick Nairn, the celebrity chef, led criticism of the ban, saying it was “incredibly short-sighted” to punish someone who was a force for good and the decision reminded him of something that would happen in Communist China.

Martha has done a fantastic job. 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.

I have no idea what process the council went through, but it just seems to me incredibly short-sighted to penalise a girl who’s actually been a force for good and a force for change by slapping her down and silencing her. If that had happened in China, we would be up in arms about it.

Ian Rankin, the best-selling crime author, tweeted to Argyll and Bute Council: I spent yesterday trying to enthuse school pupils about creativity and the written word. So thanks a lot.

Such has been the public outcry at the bullying of Martha Payne by the local jobsworth at Argyll and Bute council, that the leader of the council has had to intervene and live on BBC Radio 4 World at One lunchtime news say yes, she can continue to photograph her school dinners.

I have read her blog, and it is brilliant! She is articulate, she has a clever way of rating her meals, her photography is good (and when she forgets her camera she draws her dinner).

Martha does not only write about her dinner and rate it, she asks questions of the contents, rates it on health grounds, asks where it is sourced.

Martha was not only writing about her school dinners, she was posting pictures that other kids had taken at other schools, and she was using her blog to raise money for a charity in Africa, Mary’s Meals.

Last year my friends and I started a club, which the school let us run, called Charity Children. We raised money for Mary’s Meals. In our first sale we raised £70 in three hours which is enough to feed 7 children school lunches for a WHOLE YEAR! A lot of kids go to school everyday just for the food. Each lunch costs 6p to make.

The school dinners look singularly unappetising. Would you pay £2 for one of these dinners? I know I would not. Note the contrast between her school dinners and those kids around the world have sent to her.

I wonder what the jobsworth at the local council has for dinner? I do not know what the dinners are like in Lincolnshire schools, but I do know what they are like in the County Restaurant, the staff canteen at County Council HQ. They are excellent and very good value for money. But then they have to be as the chief executive and senior councillors eat there. Maybe the jobsworth at Argyll and Bute should try eating what Martha and her school friends are served.

Her parents must be very proud of her.

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