North Northamptonshire Council is to use event caterers that take a more responsible approach to their food waste.
Queensway and Brickhill ward member Councillor Matt Binley proposed the move to fellow members at Thursday’s (March 31) full council meeting after being alarmed at the ‘piles’ of food thrown into the general waste bin following a scrutiny conference for councillors at Wicksteed Park in the Autumn.
Members were served up a hearty feast at the event, but Cllr Binley said there had been a ‘huge amount’ of food, with lots of leftovers.
Cllr Binley and Cllr Valerie Anslow asked for the surplus food to be taken to the Wellingborough night shelter. But before they could get it collected, it had been removed and thrown away.
Cllr Binley told Thursday’s meeting he was ‘disappointed’ with the venue for not allowing them to take the food away. He said he wanted organisations across North Northamptonshire to think more carefully about their food waste.
His motion, seconded by Cllr Scott Brown, read: “North Northamptonshire Council recognises the importance of being a responsible organisation when it comes to food waste.
"As such the council will only hold meetings, training and other forms of offsite events at venues where the sites have a sustainable food waste policy to minimise food going to landfill; a policy whether written or verbally agreed with the council prior to any booking made that food waste wherever possible will be donated to foodbanks, homeless shelters or other various outside organisations and not put into general waste.”
His motion received cross-party support.
Cllr Willie Colquhoun said he had in attendance at the event and said the amount of food left over at the Wicksteed Park event was ‘shameful’, but added that had concerns over health and hygiene of sending open food to shelters.
Cllr Christina Smith-Haynes said that she had raised the issue back in 2003 when councillors used to get sandwiches before meetings, but added: “For us to give food out that’s been out for more than 20 minutes we’re opening ourselves up to compensation claims.”
Kingswood Councillor Zoe McGhee said: “I completely agree with this motion. There are children and young people and families out there that are starving in this county. We should be doing something like this anyway without this level of discussion.”
Leader of the council Cllr Jason Smithers said that the council had a social responsibility to use providers that disposed of food responsibly and that didn’t over-cater. He proposed that the word ‘waste’ in the motion was change to ‘surplus.’
Cllr Philip Irwin said the was ‘embarrassing’ to see so much food thrown away at the event. He said nobody was saying that food that had gone bad should be donated, just that food should be handed to shelters or food banks where possible and within the law.
The motion was carried, with the word waste changed to surplus, with one objection and one abstention.