May 19 2013 Latest news:
Lee-Ann Richards, Reporter
Friday, March 15, 2013
Havering Council has spent more than £40,000 on refreshments for councillors in the past three years.
The bill was revealed in a Freedom of Information request and comes as the council makes more cuts to services in a bid to make savings of £16million.
Robert Oxley, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has hit out at the figures.
He said: “Like all councils, Havering has to find savings.
“This a huge bill that is heading in the wrong direction at a time when many residents have to cut back on their own budgets.
“Ditching, or at the very least reducing, the amount spent on councillors’ refreshments is an easy way for the local authority to reduce spending without affecting the front line.”
The refreshments provided include hot beverages and mineral water and a limited supply of fruit squash in small cartons.
A small selection of biscuits is also available, but the council was unable to identify the separate costs of drinks and biscuits.
In comparison to Havering Council’s bill on refreshments, Brentwood Council spends just £120 a year of taxpayers’ cash on tea and coffee.
But Havering’s spend is a far cry from the amount that many councils spend on refreshments.
Cardiff Council splashed out more than £120,000 for meetings in the year 2011/12.
Leader of Havering Council, Michael White, said that he was surprised by the figures and would be looking at the bill.
He added: “Councillors and officers are often involved in long meetings and I think it’s reasonable that they should be able to have a tea or coffee, but we need to take a hard look at how much we’re spending and get the bill down as a matter of urgency. It’s just as important to manage our smaller budgets as it is to manage the millions we spend on services.”