Contentious plans to replace school meals across Perth and Kinross with food made and frozen in Dundee have been scrapped.
At Wednesday’s full Perth and Kinross Council meeting, the proposals – which would have saved almost £500,000 – were shot down by 21 votes to 16.
Had the plans been given the green light, Tayside Contracts would have cooked school meals at their Tay Cuisine industrial kitchen in Dundee before blast freezing the food. The meals would then have been shipped out to distribution hubs across Perthshire before being delivered to schools.
Dundee City and Angus councils have already signed off on the plans, and will now have to decide how to proceed without Perth and Kinross.
The plans could have seen as many as 50 school catering staff lost their jobs, with dozens hoped to have been shifted into early learning and childcare roles.
Instead, councillors agreed to work on a plan for continuous improvement to meet the savings target.
This alternative was slammed as “vague” by the minority Conservative administration, but councillors chose to vote down the initial plans which had previously been approved by the local authority’s lifelong learning committee.
Concerns over food being frozen, unanswered environmental questions and job losses all concerned councillors but it was the proposal’s general unpopularity that ground it to a halt.
Former administration councillor Callum Purves said: “I don’t take issue with the food being frozen and I don’t have a particular issue with the job losses, given Perth and Kinross’s relatively high employment level.
“But I have spoken to lots of constituents and I haven’t been able to sell this idea to them, so I have to support the amendment.”
SNP group leader Dave Doogan started a petition to stop the decision from being pushed through, which accrued more than 3,000 signatures.
The Perth City North councillor said: “This council will no longer need to fund the construction and running costs of the kitchen in Dundee.
“We can now get on with the overdue task of modernising and investing in our local kitchens and the job of producing fresh, nutritious and appetising school meals produced here in Perth and Kinross.”