The controversial decision to close restaurants at two council-run blocks of flats were "handled terribly", a councillor has said.

Jeremy Moulton slammed Southampton City Council’s plans to close ‘lifeline’ restaurants at Potters Court and Erskine Court.

Speaking at the full council meeting on Wednesday, the deputy leader of the Conservative group called on councillors to find a "proactive solution".

He said: “The council has a moral obligation to tenants, with the expectation that the council would continue to provide the offerings available when it first opened.

“The decision to close the restaurant was handled terribly, driven by a panicked need to make money.

“The restaurant lost money from day one and nothing was done about it.

“The council should have been managing this before now.

“If the Potters and Erskine Court experiences becomes the norm, things will be made very difficult.”

READ MORE: Councillor urges council to delay closing restaurants for vulnerable people

Announcing the news last month, the council said both restaurants had become "unsustainable" after "operating at under capacity for some time". 

It said it would be liaising with residents to discuss "alternative options available to them".

But resident Mike Stonehouse said Potters Court's restaurant is a "lifeline" for his wife Lisa and replacing it with a microwave and vending machines would have a detrimental effect on her.

Putting forward his deputation, Mr Stonehouse said: “Lisa cannot use regular cutlery or get her food out of a microwave safely due to her health condition.

“We will be devastated to lose the restaurant – we do not want to be confined to our rooms.

“We are feeling very worried and upset for the future.”

Cllr Steve Galton supported the motion put forward by Cllr Moulton.

He said: “A vending machine is not a substitution for a proper home-cooked meal, and I cannot believe that was even a suggestion.

“This has caused great distress to our most vulnerable residents which can be avoided.

“It’s our most vulnerable that keep suffering.”

For Cllr Moulton, time is of the essence when it comes to deciding on the closure which has since been delayed.

He said: “There are now two and a half months until the end of January, when the restaurants are due to close.

“The clock is ticking and the council needs to be proactive. The council needs to plan and keep residents updated.”

In a statement released after plans to close the restaurants were first revealed, Cllr Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Housing, said: "The food industry has developed significantly over the last few years, with access to hot food delivery becoming increasingly popular and offering an excellent choice of affordable and healthy options for people to choose from.

“Although the on-site catering service will end, the dining room will remain open. Residents will be able to use the space to enjoy food together, whether that’s via self-service options, food delivery services, or bringing their own food to share with friends.

"We’re also committed to developing the space to best meet residents’ nutritional and social wellbeing needs, potentially by organising regular activities and events and supporting the community to run their own coffee mornings or lunch clubs.”