THE Meals on Wheels service in Clydebank has been withdrawn after the Royal Voluntary Service said it could no longer ensure the service is sustainable.

The deliveries, by volunteers from the RVS, have been a lifeline to thousands of elderly and disabled people throughout the area.

But clients who receive the service will not lose out as West Dunbartonshire Council have stepped in and are taking over the service with immediate effect.

A West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) spokesman said: “The HSCP has taken over the meals delivery service in West Dunbartonshire after the RVS brought its Meals on Wheels provision to an end.

“There was no interruption to the meals provision service and clients will continue to receive their meals as normal.”

Meals on Wheels started in the 1940s and expanded rapidly after the end of World War Two but was never made a statutory entitlement.

In recent years an increasing number of councils throughout the UK have withdrawn subsidies, and the service operated by the RVS has dwindled.

As it is withdrawn, alternative services were being offered – including lunch clubs, meal deliveries and home care packages.

Director Sam Ward said: “We lost a number of the services for a number of reasons. Some of them it’s because the local authorities have gone out to tender and commercial companies have come into that space and taken those services.

“In other cases, because of all the pressures on the finances of local authorities, they’ve decided that they aren’t going to actually continue with these contracts.

“That means over a period of the last few years we’ve gone from having over 80 services – we’re just down to seven in Scotland and only 15 across the whole of the UK.

“It’s just become more and more difficult for us to actually support these services and help people deliver them safely on the ground.”

A petition to save the local Meals on Wheels service was set up in January and attracted more than 3,000 signatures when the firms revealed it was in talks with the council.

In a series of letters sent to the Post at the time it was claimed the (RVS) planned to scrap its weekly delivery of around 149 meals to 59 clients by March.

RVS previously denied the claims, stating it was “constantly reviewing” services but that “no final decision” had been made.

The service delivers a weekly lunch club and caters for clients in Alexandria, Dumbarton and Clydebank and was granted £20,816 in funding from West Dunbartonshire Council for 2017-18.

The petition, set up by Garry Watson, who described himself as an RVS volunteer, stated: “I believe it is incredibly important to take care of the older generation. Making their quality of life better is what made me volunteer in the first place.”