Perthshire school kitchen closures not set in stone yet as final vote needed

© DC ThomsonPerth and Kinross Council's school meals shake-up plan has been met with resistance.
Perth and Kinross Council's school meals shake-up plan has been met with resistance.

Councillors confirmed a final vote will be needed to make concrete plans to axe 50 jobs from Perthshire school kitchens.

In January, the local authority’s lifelong learning committee narrowly voted in favour of drastically altering the school meals provision service to save a projected £200,000.

New plans would see meals cooked by Tayside Contracts in a centralised kitchen in Dundee, then delivered to primary schools across Perth and Kinross at the expense of catering staff’s jobs across the region.

The Tay Cuisine kitchen at Claverhouse Industrial Estate in Fintry, Dundee, will receive a significant jobs boost, as staff will cook and blast freeze meals for Perth and Kinross, Dundee City and Angus Council areas.

Perth and Kinross Council has mitigated the impact by offering training and positions in early learning and childcare to 41 of the 50 members of staff who will lose their jobs .

Tayside Contracts have stressed that nobody will be made redundant and all departing members of staff will leave through natural job turnover.

>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The Courier newsletter

However, many questions surrounding delivery, environmental impact, vehicle cost and whether kitchen staff want to be retrained remain unanswered.

As a result, almost 3,000 people have signed a petition calling on the plans to be overturned.

At this week’s strategic policy and resource committee meeting, council leader Murray Lyle explained the decision must come before full council before it is implemented.

The comment came after councillors questioned the council’s transformation programme.

The report put to elected members stated there were only some issues with analysing the project’s risks to be determined.

Council officers who prepared the document said every other aspect of the programme is on track but given the early stage of planning the project’s implementation, the council’s SNP group questioned this.

Group leader Dave Doogan, who believes the switch has “demonstrable qualities for Dundee and Angus but casualties for Perth and Kinross”, described the milestones section as being “patently not accurate”.

Mr Lyle responded by confirming the council is working with Tayside Contracts to build up a business case for the shift in operations.

Following this analysis, all 40 Perth and Kinross councillors will have their say on its viability.

He said: “My ambition is that this decision is brought to full council to vote on.”

Plans are still being drawn up and it has not yet been confirmed when the final vote will take place.