Havering Community Questions: investigation into councillors’ refreshments bill
18:00 15 June 2013
Havering Council is carrying out an investigation into why more than £40,000 was spent in three years on refreshments for councillors.
A Freedom of Information request by the Recorder showed the extent of the bill as the council made cuts to services in a bid to save £16million.
The refreshments provided include hot beverages and mineral water and a limited supply of fruit squash in small cartons.
A selection of biscuits is also available but the council was unable to identify the separate costs of drinks and biscuits.
On Monday, Cllr Michael White, leader of Havering Council, was asked during Havering Community Questions at myplace centre in Dagnam Park Drive, Harold Hill, what action had been taken since the FoI request.
He said he was “shocked” by the figures, adding: “I think it’s far too much.”
He said: “We started an immediate investigation, being carried out by the chief executive. Five years ago we offered no other refreshments other than coffees and teas.”
At the meeting Havering Police boss Chief Supt Jason Gwillim said the borough would be getting 54 additional officers over the next few months. He said police are doing particularly well in the borough for its level of response to incidents.
Mr Gwillim pledged to focus patrols in North Hill Drive, Harold Hill, after a resident said drivers speed along the road.
Cllr White was also asked about school expansions in the borough and he explained plans for the almost-complete Branfil Primary in Upminster. He confirmed the council would not be providing temporary facilities at schools.
Among other issues raised by residents were parking changes at Hilldene Shopping Centre; a lack of parking in Upminster, and the demolition of garages on the Briar Road estate in Harold Hill to make way for housing.