A Southampton city councillor has said meals provider Chartwells could only be removed as Redbridge Community School’s caterer ‘if a critical level of failure’ has been identified.

It comes after headteacher Jason Ashley slammed the company over ‘completely unacceptable’ food being served to staff and pupils in the canteen.

In an open letter to parents, he said: “Frankly, the food that is served in the canteen is completely unacceptable, so much so, that if my own children's school served this, I would be exceptionally unhappy.”

The quality of the food provided by Chartwells was then branded ‘disgusting’ by both parents of students attending the school, as well as Redbridge councillor Sally Goodfellow.

The catering company have since apologised, stating it’s “committed to working with the school to rectify the issues”.

Southampton City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, Alexander Winning, has now addressed whether or not the school is able to walk away from its contract.

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Daily Echo:

He told the Echo: “The PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contract for Redbridge Community School was originally signed in 2001 by the main contractor, local authority, and the school itself.

“This type of contract enables the main contractor to engage its own suppliers, which includes catering companies.

“Every supplier is responsible for delivering services within reasonable levels as detailed in their contract.

“If a supplier fails to deliver to the required levels, PFI schools like Redbridge Community School can report this to a helpdesk for rectification.”  

Cllr Winning said if the supplier had been deemed to have carried out significant failures, it could be removed from the contract, though this would need to be agreed upon by all parties.

He added: “If a critical level of failure is identified, there is a mechanism for the supplier to be removed from the contract.

“For this to happen, all parties including the main contractor, supplier and school must follow the agreed contract terms.”

He added: "I’m pleased to see that Chartwells have now said they are committed to working in collaboration with the school and are implementing an immediate action plan to rectify the issues, however, am now keen to see rapid improvement.”