ANGER has erupted after Kirklees Council shifted part of its school dinner supply contract to Sheffield.
Two Holme Valley-based traders had been supplying dozens of schools with locally-sourced fresh produce.
But yesterday it emerged that both Holmfirth based greengrocer Andrew Bray and New Mill’s Atkinson’s Butchers had lost their contracts.
It is understood the new suppliers are GW Prices Ltd and Young’s butchers.
Mr Bray, who supplied 38 Holme and Colne Valley Schools, claimed the decision meant there were now no local food suppliers to Kirklees Council.
He said: “It’s a kick in the teeth, I’m absolutely disgusted.
“They’re supposed to be helping local businesses, but there’s been a gradual squeeze on local traders and over the last 12 months they have all gone.
“We’ve got some of the best dairy and cattle farms in Europe, but the only thing local for people now is the smell of manure as they pass the farm gates.”
John Mallinson, whose Atkinson’s Butchers business supplied 23 schools, described the decision as an “absolute monster cop out.”
The two businesses were given two-year deals by Kirklees Council in May 2008 following a 10-month-trial and a two-year pilot scheme.
The move to increase the quality of produce came on the back of the famous Jamie Oliver-led campaign to improve school dinners.
Now furious community campaigners have accused the council of turning its back on local business.
Holme Valley South councillor Donald Firth said he had received complaints from half-a-dozen schools and said he would “fight it to the end”.
He said: “Clr Ken Sims and myself met with officers at the council and we were not amused with the replies we were given.
“We were told some time ago the council would be using local suppliers and what they have done is renege on all of this.
“The cheapest is never the best. It’s a sad day for the council and a sad day for the kids.”
The blow for the region comes only a few months after community members won their battle to keep supermarket giant Tesco out of town.
Margaret Dale from Keep Holmfirth Special, the group that took Tesco on, said the decision was at odds with the council’s sustainable procurement policy.
And she said since schools began using fresh local groceries the uptake of school dinners had risen.
She said: “Kirklees are meant to have a green policy and they have a mayor who talks a lot about local food providers.”
But mayor and Green councillor for Newsome Julie Stewart-Turner said she had looked into the matter and had been told the replacement suppliers were very committed to locally-produced food.
She said: “Local food is really important to me – I have put a lot of effort into promoting it.
“It’s really regrettable that Mr Bray has lost his contract, but I’ve been given great reassurance food will still be coming from Yorkshire and Lancashire.”
A council spokesman said: “The council has a very strong commitment to supporting local business and also has to bear in mind value for money and commercial considerations.
“There were eight bidders for this contract and, based on our usual criteria taking into account cost and quality, Mr Bray’s bid was surpassed by a number of them.”
The new suppliers were still Yorkshire-based.