Derby

Explosion prompted Derby school kitchen alerts

Problems with school kitchens in Derby first came to light after a small gas explosion which injured a member of staff, it has been revealed.

More than 30 kitchens were closed on Monday after inspections found faults in four of the first five tested.

The council said these were not directly connected to the incident late last year, which saw a separate, smaller, number of closures.

Thousands of pupils now face sandwiches and cold snacks until late this month.

Reheat system

The explosion last year, in which a member of staff was slightly hurt, prompted similar kitchens to be closed but also began a rolling programme of checks, the council said.

This reported at the end of last week and identified an issue with more gas appliances, leading officials to shut more facilities for fuller tests.

Harvey Jennings, the Conservative leader of Derby City Council, said: "It is a consideration of risk.

"At the end of the day what we had to do was identify schools which we believed had similar equipment, were structurally similar and of a similar age .

He added: "We have now hired independent assessors to go into the schools, identify which ones can be opened as quickly as possible with the minimum of disruption."

He also dismissed suggestions from Labour councillors the closures were linked to a cost-cutting plan to move council-provided school meals to a reheated, as opposed to fresh cooked, system.

A decision on whether to refurbish the affected kitchens will be taken later in the year. Mr Jennings confirmed.

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