Business anger over £100k council contract row

Kate Bull and Doug Wort from the Food Hut, Yatton.

Kate Bull and Doug Wort from the Food Hut, Yatton. - Credit: Archant

A BUSINESS owner has hit out at North Somerset Council after a £100,000 catering contract with her company was ended and a national firm asked to provide the services instead.

Kate Bull and Doug Wort from the Food Hut, Yatton.

Kate Bull and Doug Wort from the Food Hut, Yatton. - Credit: Archant

Kate Bull, who runs The Food Hut, had to make 30 per cent of her workforce redundant after her contract to provide meals at the council’s Castlewood office in Clevedon was ‘scrapped only 12 months into a three-year deal’.

She was handed £5,000 in compensation after taking the council through the courts, but says the money is too little, too late, with legal fees costing her £4,000.

Ms Bull said: “We are just small fry. The way they treated us was just appalling.

“My husband and I have had to make difficult decisions. But it is local people who have lost jobs from a local company and it’s been done by the council who we pay taxes to.”

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The council has defended its decision to scrap the Food Hut’s service and allow national chain Apetito to provide catering from the same building.

A spokesman said the contract ended in October and the opportunity has been taken to combine Castlewood’s canteen service with Clevedon’s Community Meals On Wheels service.

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But Mrs Bull, whose business is based in Cleeve, said the council’s decision forced her to make three of her 10 staff redundant.

The council spokesman denied claims the authority is not supporting local businesses.

She said: “We already had a contract with Apetito to provide frozen individual meals, which we cook and deliver to vulnerable people throughout North Somerset.

“We do not solely provide food from Apetito and pride ourselves on sourcing from local businesses, including Winnie’s Bakery in Weston and Yeo Valley Family Farm.

“All of the staff who work in the canteen are currently employed by the council.

“In the new year, we will also be working with One True Step to provide people with learning difficulties the opportunity to gain work experience in our canteen.”

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