A senior city councillor has urged the council to delay its decision to cut a lifeline service which provides hot meals to the elderly and vulnerable.

The council is pulling the plug on its funding for City Catering, a charitable company which provides a meals on wheels service and catering at Erskine and Potters Court sheltered accommodation.

Jeremy Moulton is deputy leader of the opposition and ward councillor for Millbrook, where the blocks of flats are.

READ MORE: Southampton Meals On Wheels service to end as funding pulled

In an open letter to the council, he called on decision makers to delay the funding cut at the end of October for three months so another caterer can be found.

The Conservative councillor said: “The council keep saying that the situation is under control, but this argument seems to fall apart as soon as we have been questioning their methods.

“City Catering – the company operating the restaurant - has been covering for a social care need, which it is not required to do.

“That means that all the residents that rely on these restaurants for dietary needs and hot food will need to have their care plans reassessed. That is more than 160 residents.

“The City Catering contract is up at the end of the month; how on earth is the council going to ensure these care plans are in place and residents have alternative food arrangements available?"

It comes as the City Council seeks to plug a £14.1m black hole this financial year.

Those who live at Erskine and Potters Court have argued the restaurants provide a vital service – many of them moved to the blocks for the restaurant facilities.

Residents have been told that a microwave and vending machines will be available instead of the restaurant.

Cllr Moulton said: “The council have told me they are ‘having discussions’ with vending machine operators with just over a week before the restaurant are due to close.

“Vulnerable residents should be properly consulted when vital services are going to be slashed.”

On Wednesday, Labour's Lorna Fielker - deputy city council leader and Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Housing - and Director of Housing Jamie Brenchley met with a small group of residents from Potters and Erskine Court to discuss the issue.

Cllr Fielker said: “It is disappointing that we were unable to come to an arrangement with City Catering to continue running the restaurants on a stable financial basis.

"We have sought to find an alternative provider but have so far been unsuccessful. I would urge anyone who feels that they can step into this space to make contact.”

City Catering said that without the council's funding, its last meals on wheels would be served on January 19.