Funding found for ‘unfit’ village school kitchen

KItchen unit at Rothbury First School with headteacher Dianne Butler, chairman of governors Robert Famelton and county councillor Steven Bridgett.

KItchen unit at Rothbury First School with headteacher Dianne Butler, chairman of governors Robert Famelton and county councillor Steven Bridgett.

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The renovation of a north Northumberland school kitchen, which was branded unfit for purpose, is now on the funding list for this financial year.

In May, the Gazette reported that Rothbury First School’s dining hall and kitchen had failed a crucial food safety inspection.

The facilities, which date from the 1940s, received a one-star rating – based entirely on the condition of the building – after county officers visited in February.

The report stated: “The standards of food hygiene and safety were found to be excellent, as was the confidence in the management (records and documentation).

“However, the actual structure of the kitchen is in a very bad state of repair and does not comply with the food hygiene regulations.”

Now county council capital funding has been found so that the necessary work on the facilities can be carried out sooner rather than later.

An option appraisal is currently being carried out so that a decision can be made on what work can go ahead.

The decision on the level of the scope of works lies with the children’s services department.

It will be determined by a number of factors including timescales, deliverability within the constraints of the grant and also cost.

But the chairman of governors at the school as well as the county councillor are pushing for a rebuild rather than refurbishment.

Chairman of governors Robert Famelton said: “I am pleased that the school has finally made it onto the county’s capital works programme, after 20 years of being told by the county council that action was needed to bring the kitchens and canteen up to an acceptable standard.

“We would like to impress the need for a rebuild rather than the refurbishment of a completely out-dated building.”

And ward member Coun Steven Bridgett, who called for action in May, said: “I am pleased the county council has recognised the urgent need to improve the kitchen and dining facilities for the children within the school by putting this project onto the capital programme for this financial year,

“I will be working closely with the headteacher Mrs Butler and the chairman of governors to make the case for a complete rebuild rather than refurbishment.”

Following the inspection results, headteacher Dianne Butler praised her staff for maintaining excellent standards in deplorable conditions.

At the time, she said: “I was very disappointed with Environmental Health’s low rating for the school. I have reassured parents that the quality of hygiene for the preparation, cooking and serving of food, and the management systems in place are excellent, which reflects the high standard of work by the staff working in the kitchen.

“The only reason for the low score is entirely due to the poor state of the building.”