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Christians v lions springs to mind. Here is the …

Comment posted Council issues prompt response on Martha Payne’s NeverSeconds clampdown by Dr Douglas McKenzie.

Christians v lions springs to mind.

Here is the Council’s statement:

“Statement on school meals from Argyll and Bute Council
Published Date:
15 Jun 2012 – 10:53
Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs. The Council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the ‘never seconds’ blog for obvious reasons despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils however this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing. In particular, the photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen.

There have been discussions between senior council staff and Martha’s father however, despite an acknowledgement that the media coverage has produced these unwarranted attacks, he intimated that he would continue with the blog.

The council has had no complaints for the last two years about the quality of school meals other than one from the Payne family received on 6 June and there have been no changes to the service on offer since the introduction of the blog.

Pupils have a daily choice of two meals from a menu which is designed with pupils, parents and teachers. Our summer menu is about to be launched and includes main course choices like meat or vegetarian lasagne served with carrots and garlic bread or chicken pie with puff pastry, mashed potato and mixed vegetables.

Pupils can choose from at least two meals every day. They pay £2 for two courses and this could be a starter and a main or a main and a desert. Each meal comes with milk or water. Pupils can have as much salad and bread as they want. Salad, vegetables, fruit, yoghurt and cheese options are available every day. These are standing options and are not a result of any changes in response to the blog site.

As part of the curriculum for excellence, pupils in all our schools are regularly taught about healthy eating and at lunch breaks staff encourage pupils to make good choices from what is on offer. We use a system called ‘Nutmeg’ to make sure everything is nutritionally balanced. Our staff also get nutrition awareness training so they know how to provide a good healthy meal. There is portion sized guidance which we adhere to and it is matched to the age of the child so they get the right amount of food. Second portions would mean too many calories for pupils.

In Lochgilphead Primary School we are piloting a new pre-ordering scheme which is designed to encourage class discussion around meal choices and also improves the accuracy of meal choices. The pupils use a touch screen to select their lunch option and the data is downloaded in the kitchen so they know how many portions of each meal are required. As they place their order, the pupils are given a coloured band which relates to their meal choice that day. They wear it during the morning, and at lunchtime they hand it to the catering assistant, who will give them the corresponding meal.

The council’s focus is now on supporting the school in the education of young people in Argyll and Bute.”

Rather different in tone from what FA is reporting so muyst be two statements coming from different sources.

Dr Douglas McKenzie also commented

  • For Ferryman: Cllr McCuish has just been on Jeremy Vine’s show on R2. He made it clear that the decision to ban further photographs was an operational decision (ie made by officers), that this was a mistake and that the councillors had asked the officials to reconsider their decision. Which they did.

    Roddy made a good fist of this interview and defended the school meals, dinner ladies, bashed the Record, made it clear that the officials’ decision was a mistake while not lambasting them over it (which is why I could never do his job!).

    £83,600 plus almost 15,000 tax so far for Mary’s meals.

  • Why is it generally accepted that Mr Sneddon was only the messenger? Previous experience suggests that Mr Sneddon is quite capable of doing extraordinary things off his own bat. This is not to say that he wasn’t under instructions but I am just wondering if you have some evidence of this?

    As to winners, I think Mary’s Meals has benefited tremendously from this so it is not just Nick Nairn who benefits (and indeed, if you do something good but then receive benefit from this does that mean you shouldn’t have done the good thing in the first place?).

    I’m also unsure why you think Cllr McCuish failed his baptism of fire? I’ve been on live TV and radio a few times in my career and I thought that Roddy did OK. More importantly he shut the story down and moved things onto a positive agenda.

  • I think he sort of did – at least to the same extent that his words about changing his mind (which is what you are referring to). Cllr McCuish said in several interviews that he would be investigating what went wrong – which suggests to me that he didn’t have anything to do with it. He also said he had instructed officials to reverse the ban and said there was no place for censorship in Argyll. Would he have done that if he was the one responsible for it.

    I think you are flogging the proverbial deceased equine here.

    It has just occurred to me that Newsroom hasn’t come up with a “gate” for this story yet: Marthagate? Streisandgate? Daftestactionofcouncilofficialstodategate?

  • Ferryman: to the best of my knowledge, Cllr McCuish did not ban the photos nor did the Councillor with the Education brief, Cllr Breslin. Neither of them apparently knew anything about it until late Friday when Mr Sneddon apparently phoned Cllr Breslin to say he might have a problem.

    By the party I assume you mean the SNP? I’m pretty certain they didn’t ban the photos!

    Short of an official statement from the Council, the situation seems to be that Mr Sneddon was solely responsible for the ban and for the first (and disastrous) press release which was apparently not cleared by councillors before release though it should have been.

    No idea as of yet what role the CEO had to play in all of this.

    Hope that clarifies things. Of course, none of this is official and is just my understanding based on discussions with councillors and other people close to the Council. Hopefully we will see a definitive statement coming from the Council itself (though I’m not holding my breath on that!)

  • And Gus, again if you READ what I posted you will see that I was passing on the information gleaned from councillors that Cllr McCuish was not the one who instigated or approved of the ban but, as Council Leader he took responsibility for the actions of the Council. That’s leadership.

    Like Ferryman, I was initially concerned that Cllr McCuish’s words on Radio 4 did seem to suggest that he was responsible for the ban and so I was relieved to hear from his fellow councillors that this was not the case.

Recent comments by Dr Douglas McKenzie

  • Rustle with Russell
    More utter rubbish from Lynda Henderson. Have you actually spoken to Bob Allen? Whoever told you the story sold you a pup and in your arrogance you cannot admit to be wrong so you make up this story that he was persuaded not to resign.

    Your position is completely untenable.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    I’m afraid you condemn yourself by your own words. I don’t think that anyone reading what you have written here and the language you have used would conclude anything other than that you have a deep dislike for Mr Russell and that dislike is leading you to basically lose all sense of either proportion or impartiality. It doesn’t matter how well (or otherwise) you know Mr Russell you are clearly exercised by your interpretation of his actions and it is leading you well beyond the pale in what I would consider fair comment.

    This vendetta against Mr Russell and the SNP is destroying FA’s credibility and I have to confess that I’m seriously considering whether or not to continue reading FA (which will cheer Malcolm up if nothing else). I for one am becoming increasingly disenchanted by the constant negativity and sheer nastiness that has crept into this blog. I say that with a lot more sorrow than anger because I think that FA could have been great and indeed still could but there has to be a degree of balance, civility and indeed humour. All we are getting here is bile and it is causing me heartburn.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    To be honest, this post clearly shows that you are speaking from your personal dislike of Mr Russell rather than an unbiased analysis of the man. Phrases such as “publicity hungry coward” are well beyond what is reasonable comment.
  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    You don’t seem to understand the separation of a MSP’s duty to his or her constituency and their responsibilities as a Government Minister.

    Yet again, this is another instance where a member of the Government can do no right: speak up and be condemned as “desperate” or stay silent and be accused of not serving your constituents’ interests.

    It is just as well that Mr Russell has broad shoulders!

  • Atlantic Islands Centre for Luing: biggest investment in island’s history
    Well done Luing – an inspiration to all of Argyll’s communities.

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