The contract to run restaurants at Potters Court and Erskine Court has been extended following backlash.

The facilities at the council-owned blocks of flats will stay open until the end of January as options to secure their long-term future are reviewed.

Southampton City Council says it has received offers from firms to run the restaurants service and has extended the contract with City Catering while it considers those.

Residents at the blocks, many of whom are disabled and elderly, were up in arms after receiving letters announcing the closure of the restaurants at the end of October.

In response to a letter from Cllr Jeremy Moulton calling for a delay to the funding cut, Claire Edgar, Executive Director of Wellbeing & Housing at Southampton City Council, confirmed the restaurants will now remain open until the end of January.

Daily Echo: Potters Court residents campaigning against the closure of the restaurantPotters Court residents campaigning against the closure of the restaurant (Image: Ross Marshall)

She said: “Through engagement and feedback we have received from residents and their loved ones during this engagement phase we have now been approached by a number of interested parties that would like to explore the viability of delivering a food offer at Potters Court and Erskine Court.

“We are therefore currently considering our position on these potential new offers and how we could extend the existing service offer with City Catering for a period of time that would enable us to consider newly identified options in full.

“Although this is subject to further discussions and negotiations, we do recognise the added value of the restaurant offer, so believe it is right and proper to give this sufficient consideration, albeit noting any development must be delivered within the constraints of the council's current finances.”

The council is seeking to plug a £14.1m black hole this financial year which explains the decision to pull funding for City Catering's Meals on Wheels service.

Residents were told the restaurants would be replaced with vending machines and microwaves.

But Ms Edgar added: “Please note that these are just one option being explored including the development of a food offer, and this will give residents the freedom to use the dining room as and when it suits them in an informal and unplanned way.

“No one will have to rely on either as sole provision and assistance will be available to residents who may choose to use the vending machines.”

Daily Echo: Cllr Jeremy Moulton outside the restaurant at Potters CourtCllr Jeremy Moulton outside the restaurant at Potters Court (Image: Ross Marshall)

Cllr Moulton said he's pleased the council is looking to avoid a “cliff edge situation”.

He said: “The council seem to have understood that the proper time needs to be put in place to sort the catering contract and make sure residents have provisions in place.

“Residents do not want to be rushed. The worry this has created for residents is huge and the council need to understand that decisions they make can have massive implications on people’s lives.

“I have spoken to the CEO of City Catering and the charity is willing to step back in – a testament to the charity’s moral worth as it has been treated poorly by the council."

Cllr Moulton added: “I think the council can make this right – We have had the words, now we need the action.”