The leader of Moray Council has hit out at the region’s MP for what he has called “outrageously false claims” that the authority sourced just 16 percent of its food for school meals from Scotland.
Graham Leadbitter also demanded a retraction of the statement and an apology after providing figures that show Moray’s school meals are around 64% sourced in Scotland.
Moray MP Douglas Ross had spoken out after figures appeared to show Scotland Excel, the shared national procurement service, spends just 16 percent of its Moray school meals budget on food produced in the region.
Mr Leadbitter, however, said the reality was that 44% of the produce used in school meals was sourced from suppliers in and around Moray, including nearly quarter of a million pounds worth of locally sourced fresh meat in the year 2017/18.
Mr Leadbitter called on Mr Ross and the conservative group leader on the council, Tim Eagle, to retract their earlier statements and apologise.
He said: “This outrageously false claim by the local MP and backed up by the Conservative opposition group leader has absolutely no basis in reality.
“Not only does this false claim by the Conservatives belittle the sterling work done by the Moray Council’s catering team it is also completely irresponsible and could discourage parents from using the excellent school meals service.
“It is providing well-prepared, nutritious and affordable local food for our primary and secondary pupils day-in and day-out.”
In response, Mr Ross claimed the Moray Council’s leader’s comments were little more than a “political stunt.”
He said: “I have seen on social media that Mr Leadbitter has taken issue with the figures but I have yet to receive a letter or email to that effect, which unfortunately suggests it is a mere political stunt.
“The first line of my press release related to Scottish Excel. It is correct and I stand by that.
“I will take no lecture from Mr Leadbitter about catering issues as I have proven links to the catering system because of close family ties.
“My mum was a school cook in primary and secondary schools in the region for much of her working life.”