Social enterprise loses catering contract at Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds

Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A social enterprise which works with people with disabilities says it is “disappointed” after losing a borough council contract to supply catering services at a Bury St Edmunds park cafe.

Realise Futures, which provided catering at the Nowton Park cafe, were awarded a five-year contract in 2012, but lost out following a St Edmundsbury Borough Council tender process at the end of July.

Realise Futures, which employs 340 people in the east – with nearly a third disabled and/or disadvantaged – did bid again to run the cafe, but the contract was awarded to AE Catering.

Seven staff at the cafe will be transferred to AE Catering – meaning none have lost their jobs.

Realise Futures will continue to operate Nowton Park Nursery and the park’s former caretaker’s cottage, which provides adult learning courses as part of the enterprise’s learning and development division.

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Jo Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for leisure and heritage, said: “We went out to tender again at the end of July 2017 and the contract attracted a lot of interest. A company called AE Catering submitted their bid and based on a fair process and our background checks, has been awarded the contract.

“Realise Futures, who did again bid for the work, will no doubt be disappointed at the outcome.

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“However, their employees at Nowton Park will continue working for AE Catering. We will continue to work with Realise Futures who also manage the nursery at Nowton Park.

“AE catering services manage a number of other park cafes in the region and we have every confidence that they will provide a good service for us at Nowton Park.”

Realise Futures says some staff have also transferred across to a new service it is running with another community interest company in Brandon, to provide hot meals and refreshments for the Brandon Day Centre in Warren Close.

Stacey Lewis, Realise Futures operations manager, said: “Our catering staff are busy cooking hot meals on site in Brandon and hope to expand the service to encompass food and drinks available for the local community.

“We are, of course, disappointed to be leaving Nowton Park Café and would like to thank all our loyal customers over the years for their support of our social enterprise.”

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