West Sussex County Council has got away with its scandalous decision not to compensate redundant dinner ladies - for the moment.

An employment tribunal has made the amazing ruling that Castle View, the company that lost the contract for providing the meals, should pay instead.

It seems extraordinary that the council, which changed the contract from hot to cold meals, should not have to pay a penny of the £300,000 still owed to the staff.

No wonder Castle View is considering taking the case to the European Court of Justice and that worried contractors are asking the Government for help.

This ruling could mean other contractors who take on council business could face huge payments when the authority makes daft decisions as in this case.

No contractor could have foreseen that a major council would scrap hot meals altogether, leading to hundreds of job losses.

The people who are really suffering are the dinner ladies. They will probably have to wait months, if not years, for their cash after legal challenges.

West Sussex may have won this particular battle, but the tribunal decision over the dinner ladies' redundancy payments has left a nasty taste in hundreds of mouths.