Call for city council internal review after meals on wheels service contract assigned to pub with two-star food hygiene rating

A CITY councillor has called for an internal review after the council opted to have its meals on wheels service run by a pub which was later given a two-star food hygiene rating.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 4:55 am

The Duke of Buckingham pub took over the service on April 1 after Portsmouth City Council ended its contract with long-standing provider Apetito.

As reported by The News, the situation quickly became a ‘disaster’ and was abandoned after a week.

The pub took over the contract two weeks after the council’s food hygiene inspectors had visited, later giving two stars for food hygiene, saying that the pub ‘needed improvement’.

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However, a council spokesperson said: ‘We began our arrangement with the pub on the basis that they had a five star rating, which they did at the time.

‘The two star rating was not confirmed until April 19, by which time we had already ended the arrangement.’

The Duke of Buckingham’s service was run by Solutions & Hospitality ​Caterers, the pub's catering arm.

At the time, a pub manager said that the council had 'royally messed up' the contract, while a council spokesman said they had been ‘let down’ by the business.

Kirsty Mellor, opposition spokesperson for health, wellbeing and social care, says that she has requested ‘a full internal governance review’ to ensure that ‘this type of mismanagement does not happen again’.

She said: ‘Many elderly people rely on the nutritional benefit of a meals on wheels service. ‘What is more they benefit greatly from the social interaction and contact that they receive from those delivering the meals.

‘Portsmouth Labour group believe that services such as meals on wheels should be provided by the council and not outsourced to external organisations, and a service that facilitates, health, independence, connectedness, and well-being.’

Kirsty adds that at the time, the city council put in place a temporary Meals on Wheels service, increased domiciliary care packages where needed, and provided residents with microwaves so that carers/service users can heat up the meals over the weekend.

This interim service will likely run until June, when Age UK will take over.

Jason Fazackarley, the council’s cabinet member for health, wellbeing and social care refused to comment.