Council branded

By Roddy AshworthA PRIMARY school governor has accused a county council of being “Scrooge-like” after announcing its intention to stop arranging school dinners.

By Roddy Ashworth

A PRIMARY school governor has accused a county council of being “Scrooge-like” after announcing its intention to stop arranging school dinners.

Terry Sutton, chairman of governors at St George's Infant School in Colchester, said he feared prices for pupils' meals could now rise from April.

Mr Sutton, who is also a Colchester borough councillor, said a decision by Essex County Council to make schools arrange their own catering for pupils next year was asking too much of them.


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The county council currently oversees a contracted central service for the provision of school meals.

But it has decided not to continue with the arrangement after discovering the cost of providing each meal was set to rise from £1.40 to £2 if it issued a new contract.

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Education officers feared the increase would lead to a major drop in the demand for meals and the possible collapse of the service.

But Mr Sutton said schools and their governors were now being given an extra duty they did not want.

“We don't have the infrastructure to take this on. Many of the cooks are not trained in budgeting. Headteachers didn't get qualified as headteachers so they could run a canteen,” he added.

“The frustration is this comes just before Christmas when we've got a busy term ahead. It's Scrooge-like.”

An Essex County Council spokesman said it would be providing as much support as possible to help schools with the new catering arrangement.

He added extra money would be available for smaller schools and 150 primary schools in the county were already operating their own dinner services.

“The county's procurement service will provide a front-line support package on issues like budgetary control, food safety and staff training, as well as setting up their own catering arrangements,” said the spokesman.

“An additional £900,000 will be available to help smaller schools develop their own arrangements.”

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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