High cost of short meeting

A FULL meeting of Suffolk County Council which lasted barely 40 minutes cost taxpayers more than £1,000.The meeting, which was held at County Hall on Thursday, saw 80 councillors travel from all over the county for the short-lived affair, which had just four items on the agenda.

A FULL meeting of Suffolk County Council which lasted barely 40 minutes cost taxpayers more than £1,000.

The meeting, which was held at County Hall on Thursday, saw 80 councillors travel from all over the county for the short-lived affair, which had just four items on the agenda.

Working on a basic travel allowance of 37p per mile, the meeting cost council taxpayers roughly £1,120 – and that is without considering other expenses.

Conservative councillor Betty Milburn, who travelled from her Bury St Edmunds home, said she thought the council had "lost its way a little bit" – and hit out at a seeming lack of democracy.


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She added: "It is not the most effective use of our time, and council taxpayers are paying for us to meet.

"If you think about travelling expenses, council officers' time and the cost of printing 80 agendas, I do not believe the meeting was good value for money – but we've been drifting towards this for some time.

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"If we are going to have a full council meeting then it's got to be meaningful. Thursday's meeting was not productive, it was a silly waste of a lot of peoples' time and a waste of taxpayers' money."

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of the Conservative group, backed Mrs Milburn's views on the quick-fire meeting.

He said: "It was not a sensible use of time, or council taxpayers' money. I believe that the present system is wrong – it is not on to only allow councillors 20 minutes to hold the portfolio holders to account.

"It all comes down to value for money and that is the message we are trying to get across to the administration, but it is proving very difficult."

Liberal Democrat leader Peter Monk, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for public protection, played down the Conservative claims.

He said: "The time for questioning was agreed by all the leaders of all the parties and it has never been raised as an issue before.

"In terms of the meeting's cost to the taxpayer, after it had finished there was an opportunity for councillors to learn more about Endeavour House (the council's planned new home)."

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