‘Chil­dren could die’ fear on cuts

Burton Mail - - News - By ED­DIE BISKNELL ed­[email protected]­plc.com

SCHOOL din­ner ladies have warned that chil­dren could die and staff would have to cut cor­ners if cuts are made to the ser­vice.

Dur­ing an, at times, heated Der­byshire County Coun­cil de­bate, school cater­ing su­per­vi­sors from two schools gave pas­sion­ate state­ments to the elected mem­bers.

They were voic­ing con­cerns about Der­byshire County Coun­cil’s plans to re­duce con­trac­tual hours for nearly 1,000 school cater­ing su­per­vi­sors – “din­ner ladies” – by up to eight per cent.

This would re­sult in staff cur­rently work­ing 37 hours a week earn­ing around £97 less each month. Some mem­bers of staff will not have their hours re­duced.

Marie Black­ler, cater­ing su­per­vi­sor at Field House In­fants in Ilke­ston, in­vited the cab­i­net mem­ber for young peo­ple, Coun­cil­lor Alex Dale to work a shift in her kitchen be­fore any cuts are made. He ac­cepted this of­fer.

Ms Black­ler said that if he does carry out this shift, he will re­alise that the ser­vice is al­ready un­der im­mense pres­sure and must not be cut fur­ther.

She said: “As a ‘din­ner lady’ in a Der­byshire school, I am very con­cerned that this pro­posal will sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce ei­ther the quan­tity of meals pro-

– in are set to their con­trac­tual hours cut by up to eight per cent duced or the qual­ity of meals that Der­byshire chil­dren will re­ceive.”

Mean­while, Ju­lia Cox­son, a cater­ing su­per­vi­sor at Hul­land Pri­mary School, asked what risk as­sess­ments had been car­ried out about the pro­posed cut­backs, to en­sure they would not have a neg­a­tive im­pact on chil­dren.

Cllr Dale said the au­thor­ity had as­sessed the types of equip­ment each school has, the size of the kitchens, the length of lunchtimes, spe­cial di­ets, and the num­ber of staff.

But Ms Cox­son said Cllr Dale “had missed the point”. She said that with re­duced hours, staff may miss de­tails such as al­ler­gies and di­etary re­quire­ments of chil­dren, putting them “at risk”. “Chil­dren could die,” she said, adding: “I don’t know how we can do this on re­duced hours with­out cut­ting cor­ners or work­ing in our own time.”

Cllr Dale said he would “hope” staff would still be able to main­tain the qual­ity of the meals of­fered and that the in­vest­ment the coun­cil has put in to im­prove pro­cesses would help en­sure this. This in­cludes, he says, more than £1 mil­lion on items such as dish­wash­ers and com­bi­na­tion ovens.

Cllr Dale said: “Some staff will not see any re­duc­tion in their hours. Our pro­posal is to re­duce hours by up to eight per cent. No­body wants to re­duce the qual­ity of school meals – we rate our school meals very highly.”

Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter

School cater­ing su­per­vi­sors – ‘din­ner ladies’ Der­byshirehave

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