Workmen rip out kitchen after school drops council meals service
Reporter: KAREN DOHERTY
Date online: 27 August 2013
WORKMEN were sent to rip out tens of thousands of pounds of bespoke kitchen equipment when a primary school opted out of the council’s dinner service.
They are even alleged to have cut up a cooker at Royton Hall Primary School because it wouldn’t fit through the door, and demanded cooks’ shoes back. The school offered to buy the kitchen and fittings but has now borrowed £43,000 - from the council - to fit a new one in time for the start of term.
One furious parent branded the action a waste of taxpayers’ money.
But the council insists the cooker was dismantled rather than cut up — and the shoes were left behind with staff.
Others schools face the same treatment if they end their contract with the council’s catering service.
Chairman of governors Roy Butterworth said: “It was petty. The authority came in and stripped out the kitchen. It was a big kitchen, in case we ever went back to a two-form entry.
“The fridges could go into another school, but the counters were all bespoke. They even took the cooker out and there is no way it would do any other kitchen because they had to cut it up to get it out. It is complete madness.”
Mr Butterworth explained how governors decided to opt out of the council’s school dinner service and provide the food in-house to save £18,000 a year.
He added: “We offered the authority money for the kitchen. We gave our business manager a mandate to negotiate with the council and right up to the last minute they wouldn’t give us an answer.”
The parent, who didn’t want to be named, accused the council of “punishing” the school: “I am disgusted that public money is being used to rip out a perfectly good kitchen - and more public money is being used to install an identical kitchen.”
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet member for education, said: “When the contract ended, the kitchen equipment was removed to replace older and less suitable equipment elsewhere.
“The industrial cooker was not cut up, it was dismantled for removal. The cooks’ shoes were also not removed: they were left with staff on the final day.
“We continue to have a good relationship with this school and our door is always open if they wish to talk again about their school meals provision.”
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