IT'S the week for dramatic u-turns after Fife Council was forced to reverse their deeply unpopular decision not to run Cafe Inc in South West Fife.

Councillors had been left angry and "disgusted" after they were told last week that the local authority's catering service had effectively said no, they wouldn't be providing meals in schools to tackle holiday hunger during the two weeks of the October break.

A request had been tabled in August, with the area committee's full backing, to offer hot food and packed lunches Monday to Friday in Park Road in Rosyth; Dalgety Bay, Saline, Inzievar in Oakley; and Inverkeithing primary schools, alongside two-day a week community offerings run by volunteers.

Fuming local councillors passed unanimously a motion slamming the response from the catering service – just 24 hours after they’d been promised the request would be approved – and demanded an urgent review.

The heat was turned up at the following day's full council meeting and amid mounting criticism, late on Tuesday the council reversed the decision and said Cafe Inc would run in the area after all.

Cllr David Barratt said: "Following news last week that Fife Council had rejected proposals for Cafe Inc in South and West Fife, pressure from local councillors has resulted in a u-turn and the proposals WILL now be delivered!

"As the convener for the South and West Fife area committee, I am delighted councillors from Kincardine to Aberdour were able to speak with a single voice to unanimously express our anger to force this u-turn.

"There are still improvements that can be made and I will be making a point of visiting each of the venues in my area to see how the council’s holiday programme is delivered in practice, but this is a significant step forward."

Free food for young people and their families will now be available at the following venues in the October holidays:

Inverkeithing Trust, Ballast Bank, Wednesdays only, 1pm to 3pm; Inverkeithing Primary School, Monday to Friday, 11.45am to 1pm; Dalgety Bay Sports Centre, same days and times as Inverkeithing PS; Kings Road Primary in Rosyth, same days and times as Inverkeithing PS; EATS Rosyth, Monday and Thursday only, noon to 2pm; Kincardine Community Centre, same days and times as EATS Rosyth; Inzievar Primary School in Oakley, same days and times as Inverkeithing PS; Oakley Tower Pantry, Monday and Friday only, noon to 2pm; Saline Community Centre, same times and dates as Inverkeithing PS; Valleyfield Social Club, Monday to Friday, noon to 2pm.

At the area committee meeting last week, councillors reacted with disbelief when Mandy MacEwan, the community development team manager, informed them that her proposals to run Cafe Inc in South West Fife had effectively been scuppered.

Catering services had told her they “didn’t have the capacity” to run the scheme at Park Road, didn’t want to run it at Dalgety Bay as “numbers were very low” previously, and questioned why it should run in Rosyth, Inverkeithing and Inzievar when there were volunteer-run services nearby.

They “didn’t have capacity” at Saline either, adding that food could be prepared at Torryburn but would need to be picked up and taken to Saline.

Ms MacEwan had countered that it wasn't fair to ask volunteers to provide the number of meals required for the full 10 week days of the October break and that a formal response was being prepared to go back to catering services.

Cllr Brian Goodall hit out: “I don’t think I’ve ever been so disgusted with a report back from council officers.

“What was requested took on board almost everything we’ve been asking for and it just seems to have been utterly ignored when it’s gone to that other service.

“We were told at the communities scrutiny committee yesterday that all requests that had been made to catering services were going to be honoured. That’s clearly not true. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry at something I’ve heard at a council meeting – and I’ve been through school closures and all sorts!

“No alternative provisions have been put forward other than ones we know aren’t workable. It’s just appalling.”

When news of the u-turn broke, he said: "It’s been a hard fight but we got there, although this is far from the full meal choices with wrap-around services I feel we should have, I’m really pleased with this as an outcome for the October holidays."

Fife Council’s spokesperson for communities, Cllr Linda Erskine, said: "Since 2019 we’ve been providing free healthy, fresh food during holiday periods. This is not a statutory service but something that’s unfortunately become very necessary in our communities. It’s even more important now as we approach the winter and families struggle with the rising cost of living.  

“Our aim is to make sure Café Inc is available in all areas of Fife and we’re working hard to make that happen. We also want to make sure that we can provide hot food to families and again we’re working to provide this for everyone who wants to come together with others for a hot meal.   

“Café Inc is just one of the ways we’re supporting communities through this cost of living crisis. A package of measures was announced last week at the council’s Cabinet Committee including £250,000 to support community food providers to grow projects in local communities. This will help with the purchase of items like fridges and the training and support of volunteers. Funds are also being used to buy food as donations reduce and the need for food support continues."