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Angus remains committed to school meals deal with Dundee in wake of Perth and Kinross pull-out

School meal times could look very different when pupils return next month
School meal times could look very different when pupils return next month

Angus councillors are to stick with a school meals deal alongside their Dundee neighbours after a Perth and Kinross pull-put threatened to derail the Tayside scheme.

Policy and resources committee councillors on the authority unanimously agreed to remain committed to the development of the Tayside Meals Centre in a move one leading councillor said would also keep their ambitions for future early years provision  on track.

Angus officials had warned backing out of the cross-council arrangement could leave the authority unable to meet new Scottish Government requirements due to come into force next August which will see an uplift in provision from 600 hours to 1,140 hours for three and four-year-olds, as well as eligible two-year-olds.

Tayside Contracts’ Tay Cuisine industrial kitchen in Dundee will be the heart of the school meals operation, with food cooked there before being frozen for distribution to hubs across the area and then on to individual schools.

The Perth and Kinross Council vote to pull out of the plan followed concerns about job losses in rural areas.

Angus officials said despite the neighbouring authority’s withdrawal, net savings of £107,000 would still be achieved, against an original estimate of £138,000 when the plan was first agreed at the start of this year.

The council’s £100,000 commitment to infrastructure costs – matched by a similar sum from Dundee –  will remain unchanged.

Tayside Contracts’ capital investment of £1.9 million will now have a payback period of 3.8 years compared to the two years in the original proposal, councillors were told.

Work is due to start imminently on two new purpose-built Angus early years centres on the site of the former Forfar Academy and at Pitseklly Park in Carnoustie.

The £4m Carnoustie centre will have room for 205 children, with a 155-pupil capacity at the £3.6m Forfar facility.

Angus children and learning convener, Arbroath Conservative councillor Derek Wann said: “I remain fully supportive of the proposal to continue with Dundee.

“Things are progressing well with our early learning estate and meals production is part of that provision.

“Perth and Kinross Council are now faced with a £400,000 black hole and the question of where they will meet their obligation of supplying meals.”

Brechin and Edzell Independent councillor Bob Myles said he was also fully behind remaining with the agreed plan.

“It was always a surprise to me that Tayside Contracts didn’t use the extensive facilities they have more fully.”

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