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Oliver's concern over spending cuts

TV chef Jamie Oliver has said looming Government spending cuts could threaten his pioneering centre aimed at a teaching communities healthy cooking.

Oliver said Rotherham Council fears budget cuts will jeopardise Oliver's Ministry of Food project which he set up in the South Yorkshire town in 2008.

He pointed out that the investment in his centres was a tiny amount compared with what the NHS spends every year dealing with problems brought on by obesity.

Writing in The Observer, he said: "The council is doing everything to keep it open - but I can't understand why this should even be in doubt. It's clear that this is one of the few strategies helping people overcome their food problems."

He said he believed letting centres like his wither was "foolhardy and a false economy - particularly in a country that is spending billions on obesity-related diseases".

Oliver set up the Ministry of Food in Rotherham to help people with no cooking ability and the idea was that those who are trained pass their skills on through the community.

Two more have since opened in Leeds and Bradford. The Rotherham project was backed by the local council and funded through two Government grants.

But Oliver said council officers have told him these sources of finance are drying up.

Now he is hoping he can find another source of income for the centre, which helped 6,500 people last year and needs £130,000-a-year to run.

He appealed to the business community and the Government to step in.

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