The Council is seeking feedback on plans to charge for the use of community school kitchens for a number of events.
No charge is currently made when kitchens at most community schools in Orkney are used for events such as weddings and other private functions.
The cost of utilities such as gas and electricity, and any clean-up that might be needed, is met instead from the budget for the Council’s school meals service. A charge is already made for the hire of the kitchen at Kirkwall Grammar School.
“In difficult financial circumstances, we can no longer afford to subsidise the use of community school kitchens,” said Hayley Green, the Council’s Head of Head of IT and Facilities. “So we are looking to introduce a charge for most commercial and some community events.
“The sort of functions we have in mind are those where you’d pay for the use of a kitchen if it was a part of commercial premises.
“But we are aware that this could cause difficulties for some community groups and we are asking for views on the sort of events where we should consider waiving a kitchen charge. An example of this might be an event to raise funds for the local community.”
The budget simulator exercise carried out by the Council in 2016 demonstrated a willingness among the public for an increase in charges for services if this helped reduce the need for cuts to frontline services.
A charge of £99 is proposed to cover the costs of a kitchen hire at smaller schools. The current charge for the hire of the KGS kitchen is £156 and this would be charged for use of the kitchens at Stromness Academy and Papdale Primary as well.
Initial discussions on the possibility of charging for the use of community school kitchens have been held with the chairs of many of Orkney’s community associations.
Community associations across Orkney are being contacted again and asked for further feedback – including suggestions for the types of events that should be excluded from a kitchen hire charge.
Other groups and individuals can also provide views and ideas by email or by writing to Community Learning and Development, Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1NY.