St Albans council investigating possibility of giving out free sanitary products to tackle period poverty

Sanya Masood and Sophie Harrold have launched their seventh campaign to collect sanitary products fo

Sanya Masood and Sophie Harrold have launched their seventh campaign to collect sanitary products for homeless and vulnerable women. - Credit: Archant

Women suffering with period poverty may be given free sanitary products in public buildings around the district.

St Albans district council (SADC) has decided to investigate the logistics of providing free tampons and pads at sites it owns, after a motion was passed by councillors on October 10.

The council will also encourage everyone to donate these products to foodbanks and will raise awareness of eco-friendly alternatives.

Cllr Caroline Brooke said: “People often think of St Albans as the ultimate leafy middle class commuter district, but we are all well aware that this district is currently home to several food banks. If you are struggling to buy food you are almost certainly struggling to buy sanitary towels and tampons.”

The Red Box Project is a national initiative to place constantly stocked boxes of sanitary items in schools to ensure no young girl misses out on her education because of her period.

SADC also agreed to work with the Red Box Project around the district.

However, argument erupted in the chamber when Cllr Richard Curthoys added an amendment praising Anne Main for a “campaign” to remove VAT from sanitary products.

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Although he backed a petition against the tampon tax, he described this motion as “standard liberal virtue signalling”: “What will our residents think of a council that effectively discriminates on the grounds of sex and effectively gives female employers a benefit in kind, which will probably be taxable.”

Cllr Mary Maynard said she was shocked and appalled that the Lib Dems did not support the amendment.

Cllr Chris Davies denounced it as inappropriately playing politics with a sensitive issue: “It’s factually incorrect, if you hear me out. Let’s take a look at the Hansard voting record for Anne Main over the years.

“Apart from the fact that she’s been constantly voting against equality for human and gay rights, constantly voted for a reduction in spending and welfare benefits, constantly voted for reducing central government funding for local government, against measures to prevent climate change, in October ‘15, and this is the point, my colleagues - she is against scrapping VAT on luxury items, ie, the tampon tax.”