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Suffolk: County council blasted for spending nearly £60,000 on tea and coffee

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 April 2011

Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council

Archant

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 eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

30 comments

  • most people I know are so BORED with ES and the relentless, pointless campaign against SCC... Nothing is fun about this bullying paper anymore. I might submit a FOI request to ascertain how many ES stories this year were actually NEWS!

    Report this comment

    @noteveningstar

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • This is truly shocking, there are 1000 people working in Endeavour House so they are spending at least £59 per person per year. Oh actually I've just read the article, its not tax payers money that they are spending but employees contributions from the car park. Perhaps the Evening Star could spend a bit of money and get some proper journalists capable of bringing us proper news instead of a constant stream of non news about our respective councils.

    Report this comment

    Jim wilson

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • I work at the council, and I park at Endeavour House and I pay my £3 per day to do so. Its not taxpayers money funding the" free" tea and coffee for staff and councillors (that's an important part missing from Cllr Cann's comment, as he gets it free too! Along with his meals... which I DO have to pay for)... it's my money. It's not taxpayers money funding the free shuttle service for everyone else to use free of charge... it's my money. So I would suggest, rather then sitting here "blasting me" and others like me who are funding these "perks" for everyone elses enjoyment... a simple thank you will suffice. And on a related point... you can't properly "fund" services on income which may or may not be there at the same level over the course of a year... if staff numbers drop... car usage drops... so does the income generated which could jeapodise the very service you are trying to save!

    Report this comment

    MRW

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • How right Andrew Cann is in this time of cuts including the much loved library service, it takes the buscuit that £60k has been spent on refreshments for staff. Its just another example how Suffolk County Council is wasting taxpayers money, and its a pity county council elections are not taking place next month, because I am sure their might well no longer be a conservative run council

    Report this comment

    derrick

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Evenign Star - that's three times now you have posted the same pathetic story and NO-ONE IS INTERESTED! It's a continuous crusade against the Council and their staff without ever knowing the facts. I wonder if Archant staff pay to park their cars? Hmmm very unlikely. Now go and find a proper news story to report.

    Report this comment

    Public Purson

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • These car park charges go a long way. Don't they also fund the free bus.

    Report this comment

    m01

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • I work in the private sector and I get free tea and coffee and free car parking so the fact that they pay car parking fees which funds their refreshments and the shuttle bus that anyone can use sounds fair enough

    Report this comment

    S T

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Over a year that's actually £30 an hour spent on coffee and tea. Some back-of the-envelope calculations suggest around 1000 cups of coffee an hour - so approximately one cup per person per hour. Perhaps if less caffeine was consumed in Endeavour House we might see a more contemplative attitude towards public services rather than the hyperactive slash and burn approach currently emanating from the top floor.

    Report this comment

    Origami Penguin

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Council employees should pay for all refreshments ,but cannot be expected to subsidise other "services". On the other hand what would the quite excessive staff have to do if they were unable to chat and quaff nearly all day?

    Report this comment

    Icabod

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • How is this a story? Its paid for out of car parking charges which come out of council staff pay! I echo comments about persecution needing to go to the top rather than picking on the workers who earn very little and are now doing on average 3 peoples jobs due to the cuts (which I agree are needed) but seriously I think we're allowed a cup of tea we've paid for ourselves while working!

    Report this comment

    Lisa1981

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • Of course Cllr Cann doesn't need to worry about parking his car or using the shuttle bus - according to the SCC website he lives at Endeavour House. Does he make himself a nice cup of tea before going to bed at night (presumably in the Council (bed)Chamber?

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • The Evening Star needs to learn which stories to pick if they want to maintain public support. This is the wrong battle. Pick on someone your own size like the people at the top. Not on the staff who are just trying to do their jobs for little reward or thanks. You are just coming across as nasty bullies with some of these stories.

    Report this comment

    Sarah Ipswich

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • You are right Citizen, if indeed the car park fees fund their tea and coffee they shouldn't subsidise sevices. A lot of private companys don't charge for parking but do for refreshments.

    Report this comment

    m01

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • I notice that this story has now been sold to the nationals. I wonder if we could ask the star, under the freedom of information act, how much they have earned from having a go at our council.

    Report this comment

    MotorBotor

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • Another story to make Council staff feel even more miserable while they are doing working hard and doing their best and waiting to find out if they are still going to remain employed. Is Mr Cann up for re-election or something??? Why else would he stir things up?? Why not investigate something the taxpayers money does pay for..... Like councillor expenses!!!

    Report this comment

    Bookworm :)

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Can the last one to leave the County Council please swich the kettle off!

    Report this comment

    Peter Wyburn

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • While you folk are inquiring about the legitimacy of some of this information, and perhaps even wondering the value of it - let me affirm that I am certainly interested. Our elected council is wasting money in so many ways, yet continuing to pay "top dollar for the best service" (which seriously needs to be proven) so yes; SCC squandering does need to be highlighted. It needs to be in the Nationals. SCC is such a filthy waste of money, that throws money at arrogant figurepieces for little to no return. Yes; The council is spending money needlessly, on tea, coffee, chief executive officers, etc. It needs to stop. SCC in its current state is disgusting.

    Report this comment

    Winston Barrington Jr.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

  • When do i get a free coffee voucher for parking in the town centre? For £3 i get less than two hours parking! Sadly as long as Ms Hill is at the top, do to her lack of public support, all these small issues will become big issues! A lot of people working at endeavour house are good people thet need a good leader.

    Report this comment

    Chris Finbow

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • Read this: “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" and then read a dictionary definition of "blasted"

    Report this comment

    Sky Red

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Like many other people in the public sector across the country these staff have had their pay frozen for the last couple of years. They alsom in most case pay their Council tax to Suffolk and their tax to the government so they already pay their share towards providing services. They also have to pay to park their cars (again like many other people) so why should that money be used to pay for lollypop folk, surely they would be paying twice for the same thing? If they have have to provide their own tea and coffeethen they should also see the cost of parking cut. Not often we can stick up for them but surely this is a step too far?

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Some staff at Endeavour House have no option but to drive to work (it may be too far to walk from home, there may not be a suitable bus service, they may live in Cambridgeshire, etc). At £3 per day, they are paying £15 a week to use the car park: that works out at about £700 a year, allowing for 4 weeks holiday and bank holidays. For some staff, that amounts to a hefty annual deduction. For others, such as those in the management training session, glamorous photo-shoot and BT-funded junket class, it's loose change. Perhaps the council should charge staff according to their means to pay, if at all, otherwise, parking fees could be seen just a way of clawing back wages from staff in a way that disproportionately affects the lower paid. As more bus services are axed, the number of affected staff will increase.

    Report this comment

    martha farquhar

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Yawn yawn yawn. Ever since the council banned Geater, Archant seem to be on this crusade against SCC. Move on, nothing here.

    Report this comment

    Shere Khan

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • I work in London and can do that in a lunch who cares

    Report this comment

    El Vigilante

    Friday, April 15, 2011

  • Well I work in the retail sector, now thanks to my council, I have to pay to park my car and my company charges us for drinks! I don't get any benefits for parking or drinking during my working day!

    Report this comment

    jessie

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • @Dee Sealey, why don't you put in an FOI request to ask the council how much staff time is spent on responding to FOI requests from the EADT? You could also submit a request to the EADT itself, to find out how much staff time and money is spent on FOI requests, and give them a taste of their own medicine! Then you could post the results on here, or on your own blog!

    Report this comment

    martha farquhar

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • But who paid for the car park?????

    Report this comment

    C Smith

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • Seriously? This is what the EADT calls front page news? Isn't this like the 2nd or 3rd time we've had this exact same story? What people tend to forget is that public sector employees are just people doing a job like you, me or any other person. They pay their taxes, bills and mortgages like you, and they're having to tighten their belts like you at a time when services are being cut. Parking at Endeavour House is £3 a day. That's roughly £60 a month, from a wage that's been totally frozen for 2+ years. Funny how the paper always fails to mention these things..? If this money were to be put into helping save public services, the people paying it would essentially be paying an additional tax on top of what everyone else does. How fair do you think that would be?

    Report this comment

    ShimmyMcGee

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • How much council time and money is wasted answering FOI requests from tin-pot Archant journalists? You're making yourselves look really silly now.

    Report this comment

    Dee Sealey

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • Whilst supporting the Evening Star's campaign against the New Strategic Direction, this story is an extremley poor attempt to grab a hewadline. Many firms do provide free tea and coffee andor staff car parking. It is not perculiar to the Public Sector. Councillor expenses would be a more valid target, especially for councillors like Mr Cann who claimsexpenses from both Ipswich Borough and Suffolk County, (nice work if you can get it!) and is he saying that he takes his own tea and coffee into these meetings at Grafton and Endeavour Houses?

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

  • It would be nice to see a set of accounts for this car parking. On the income side is the £3 per day (the same cost as most car parks charge within the town) On the expenditure side is the upkeep of the car park and collection of the fees. From any surplus they already claim to run a free bus service for staff (although apparently anyone can use it) and no supply free tea and coffee (this alone takes the full £3 for 70 cars parking for a year of working days).

    Report this comment

    A Smith

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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