Decision details

School Kitchen Equipment, Service and Maintenance Contract Re-tender

Decision Maker: Co-operative Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes


Permission required to re-tender the School Kitchen Equipment, Service and Maintenance Contract on behalf of 91 schools who are participating in the School Catering Contract 2021-2025.


The current contract arrangements end on the 31st March 2022 and another contract needs to be in place by Monday 4th April 2022 when schools return after the Easter break.





The report sought approval to procure a new School Kitchen Equipment Service & Maintenance Contract from 4th April 2022 for 3 years plus 4 months, to 31st July 2025 with an option to extend for two further periods of 12 months each. The council will enter into the new contract to support the School Catering Contract and those schools that participate in it. All costs are charged back to schools as part of a traded subscription service.




RESOLVED: That Co-operative Executive:-



1.    Approves the procurement for re-tendering the School Kitchen Equipment Service & Maintenance Contracts from 4th April 2022 to 31st July 2025 as outlined in this report with an option to extend for two further periods of 12 months each;


2. Approves the award of the contracts to the most economically advantageous tenderers; and


3. Delegates authority to the Executive Director of People Services in consultation with Co-operative Executive Member for Education, Children and Families, the Director of Finance and Commercial Services and the Director of Legal and Governance, to take all other necessary steps not covered by existing delegations to achieve the outcomes outlined in the report.




Reasons for Decision




By procuring and managing Kitchen Equipment Service and Maintenance directly with the specialist commercial kitchen industry, the council has better control, operationally and financially. Although the premises are managed by the schools, and in the case of academies, owned in entirety, schools understand the need to keep the two elements of catering and equipment safety running in close harmony. It makes for safer premises and a safer catering service, while ever the school opts to participate in the School Catering Contract. This arrangement has always worked well in the past and in consulting with schools, this element of the offer was a major consideration when electing to join the School Catering Contract




With this contractual arrangement, schools can then focus on teaching and learning and not become involved in kitchen premises issues. The on-site catering teams have instant access to specialist and accredited kitchen maintenance contractors, and repairs, maintenance and replacements are managed smoothly. This keeps all school kitchens in operation during term time providing hot lunches for thousands of pupils every day, as well as swift action when problems occur.




As a direct result of letting this contract, other SCC corporate buildings, community buildings and other non-school sites can have their kitchen premises serviced by agreement.



Alternatives Considered and Rejected




Including Kitchen Equipment contracts in the School Catering Contract obligations During the first School Catering Contract with the private sector (2001 to 2006), it was decided to make kitchen maintenance part of the obligations of the catering supplier. It was a poor decision as it led to repairs being delayed or postponed and replacement equipment put on hold for lengthy periods. This element of the work was an area where funds could be saved, whereas covering labour and food costs were essential, so repair to and replacement of equipment was often curtailed. It is also not the area of skill for education catering suppliers and the work was subcontracted out by the catering contractor at the outset of the contract. The council had little or no control over decisions made and therefore were at risk if site safety became compromised through accidents with equipment or lack of a robust servicing regime. When the contract ended, and an inventory was carried out, extra funds were needed to bring sites back up to a proper operating level, ready for the next education catering supplier.




To Not Provide the Kitchen Equipment element for schools The Do Nothing Option Part of the offer to Headteachers when catering was outsourced was that they had a full ‘buy back’ option available to them as they did not wish to deal with equipment issues or kitchen safety, alongside managing a food service. It also makes the catering operation very difficult to manage if an essential part of that function is dependant on a decision by a Headteacher to spend resources on repairing or replacing equipment. Site safety would in many cases be compromised and some services temporarily halted while decisions to release funds for essential maintenance were confirmed. The caterer would then not be able to fulfil their contractual duties. Schools would have to make their own arrangements for kitchen maintenance and the council would have to navigate through many different arrangements with individual school staff to ensure safety was not compromised. Headteachers agreed to sign up for a catering offer that has a ‘whole kitchen’ approach, with all the responsibility for the service managed by skilled and knowledgeable contractors, overseen by the council’s School Food Team. To not do this would mean informing Heads that they would need to find a solution themselves by April 2022 which would create a problem for schools not used to managing this element of the service.




Any Interest Declared or Dispensation Granted








Reason for Exemption if Public/Press Excluded During Consideration








Respective Director Responsible for Implementation




Executive Director, People Services




Relevant Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee If Decision Called In




Children, Young People and Family Support Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee


Report author: Leah Barratt

Publication date: 23/11/2021

Date of decision: 17/11/2021

Decided at meeting: 17/11/2021 - Co-operative Executive

Effective from: 30/11/2021

Accompanying Documents: