This week, Cumbria County Council's Learning and Recreation Scrutiny Panel decided to refer back to Cabinet the decision taken on 20th May to bring forward proposals to restructure the school meals service from 1st April 2004 instead of 1st April 2005.
County Councillor Roger Bingham, Chair of the Panel says
"The meeting has demonstrated the positive value of scrutiny and the call-in process. The supporters of the call-in asked clear precise questions which were answered in an articulate and easily understood way by the responsible Cabinet Members. There was unanimous support for the view that no change was not an option. Everybody accepted that a stop must be put to the continued financial loss in school meals and that the provision of a nutritious mid day meal should remain as an essential choice for our pupils. Opinions differed about the benefits of a change in provision to be implemented next April or whether our responsibility for our much valued staff would be better served by delaying implementation for another year. In addition, several other valuable points were made about the meals on wheels service and provision for special educational needs pupils which will also by forwarded to Cabinet in July."
County Councillor Joan Stocker, Cabinet Spokesperson for Education says
"This is a very important issue and I would like to thank Members of the Learning & Recreation Scrutiny Panel for the opportunity for this debate. I am pleased that the Panel has recognised the need to modernise and update the school meals service, however I am concerned that unnecessarily delaying the issue will only increase uncertainty and concerns of staff, schools and parents.
We have guaranteed that schools, especially small schools, will be provided with independent advice and support, to enable them to choose the option that is best for them. I am confident that the hard work undertaken by the Education Department and Cumbria Contract Services means that the target of implementing a new modernised school meals service by April next year can be achieved."
Cumbria County Council will be writing to all the schools involved by the end of the summer term informing them that