Governors of a school in Oldham are locked in a war of words with the council over a dismantled commercial kitchen.
Workmen were reportedly sent to rip out tens of thousands of pounds of bespoke kitchen equipment when Royton Hall Primary School decided to no longer use the council’s dinner service.
They were even alleged to have cut up a cooker because it wouldn’t fit through the door, and demanded cooks’ shoes back, according to the Oldham Evening Chronicle.
The school offered to buy the kitchen and fittings, but has now borrowed £43,000 from the council to fit a new one in time for the September term.
Chairman of governors, Roy Butterworth, told the paper: “It was petty. The authority came in and stripped out the kitchen. It was a big kitchen, in case we ever went back to a two-form entry.
“The fridges could go into another school, but the counters were all bespoke. They even took the cooker out and there is no way it would do any other kitchen because they had to cut it up to get it out. It is complete madness.”
By opting out of the council’s school dinner service and providing food in-house, the governors believe they can save £18,000 a year.
It is not clear what brand of equipment is at the heart of the dispute, but the council has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ funds by removing a perfectly good kitchen and lending the school money to install a new one.
However, councillor Amanda Chadderton, cabinet member for education, told the paper that when the contract ended, the kitchen equipment was simply removed to replace older and less suitable equipment elsewhere.
“The industrial cooker was not cut up, it was dismantled for removal,” she said. “The cooks’ shoes were also not removed: they were left with staff on the final day. We continue to have a good relationship with this school and our door is always open if they wish to talk again about their school meals provision.”