Suffolk: County council blasted for spending nearly £60,000 on tea and coffee
PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 April 2011
SUFFOLK: Lollipop ladies could face the axe and libraries may have to close their doors while the council shells out nearly £60,000 on tea and coffee for staff, it has emerged.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Suffolk County Council reveal £59,095 has been spent since January 2010 on refreshments for break out areas in council offices.
The council said the refreshments are paid for by money generated from staff paying to park at the authority’s car park.
But Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Cann blasted council bosses for not diverting the money to save services.
A spokesman for the authority said: “Tea and coffee is not paid for with taxpayers money, it is funded through contributions from staff for car parking.”
But concerned parents and campaigners have today urged council bosses to think twice about how money generated from the staff-used car park in Constantine Road is used.
The call comes after it emerged part of the £3-a-day spent by staff using the car park is used to quench the thirst of those working at Endeavour House.
While she said staff are more than within their rights to have regular refreshments, Sue Miller, mother-of-two, who is campaigning to save the lollipop lady at Dale Hall Primary School, has questioned whether staff should pay for drinks themselves, like in other businesses.
She said: “It is an awful lot of money, obviously people are entitled to drink teas and coffees, that is not the issue.
“When I have worked in organisations we have had a kitty to pay for drinks ourselves.
“If we are short of money then surely it is teas and coffee that should be scrapped before lollipop patrols that are keeping children safe.”
Another concerned parent, Fiona Dyes, who is backing the Save Our Sally (SOS) campaign in support of the lollipop patrols at Springfield Junior and Infants School, said she would like to see the money spent elsewhere.
“That money could be spent on other services, it could go towards keeping lollipop patrols on the roads and libraries open,” she said.
Sally Hawkes, the lollipop lady at the centre of the SOS campaign said when a consultation meeting took place at Endeavour House on February 11 for schools crossing patrols, no refreshments were offered.
She said: “We were sat in that meeting for an hour-and-a-half and not once were we offered even a drink of water.”
Mr Cann said the council should use the money on services for taxpayers.
He said: “It is normal practice in most businesses for employees to provide their own tea and coffee making facilities and Suffolk County Council should be no exception.
“At the end of the day it is taxpayers’ money being used to subsidise this and I am sure every taxpayer would rather money was spent on employing lollipop patrols.
“The car park is run for Suffolk County Council on behalf of taxpayers.”
The SCC spokesman said at any internal meetings, such as the consultation with schools crossing patrol officers, break out areas are available for people to get refreshments.
“It should have been stressed that people at the meeting could help themselves at the break out areas,” he added.
n Should money generated from the staff car park be used to save services? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail email@example.com.