Council forks out nearly �14k on drinks

Taxpayers forked out nearly �14,000 for tea, coffee and water at county meetings over the last three years, figures revealed today.

Josh Warwick

SUFFOLK: Taxpayers forked out nearly �14,000 for tea, coffee and water at county meetings over the last three years, figures revealed today.

Suffolk County Council, which has been told to radically slash its budget as the squeeze on public spending tightens, supplies refreshments at all formal council meetings - more than 100 a year.

The cost of providing councillors with drinks - which totalled �13,940.08 between 2006 and 2009 - has fallen in recent years.

In 2006/07, the authority splashed out �8,593.26 but by 2008/09 that figure had dropped to �1,777.83.

The council came in for criticism three years ago after it emerged it was spending �144,000-a-year on biscuits, sandwiches and crisps for internal meetings.

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Bosses only discovered they were paying out �12,000 a month - the equivalent of �400 a day - on food and drink after a worker made a cost-cutting suggestion to help claw back a �24million budget shortfall.

A council spokesman said a decision was made in 2006 not to provide anything other than tea, coffee and water.

He said refreshments were not restricted to councillors but were also available to officers attending the meetings, expert witnesses, co-opted members and others addressing the committee.

The spokesman added: “In 2006/07 the county council reviewed catering provision and this has enabled us to reduce the amount spent on refreshments at council meetings over the past couple of years.”

Should councillors be given free drinks at meetings? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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