Legacy means free food for councillors

WHILE there's no such thing as a free lunch for staff at Endeavour House any more, county councillors attending full meetings will still be able to tuck into a full meal before they start their discussions.

WHILE there's no such thing as a free lunch for staff at Endeavour House any more, county councillors attending full meetings will still be able to tuck into a full meal before they start their discussions.

The Evening Star revealed yesterday that the council is to stop meals at internal meetings - saving £144,000 a year.

However full meals from councillors will continue to be provided, paid for by a bequest from a former councillor who died before the first world war.

And this could mean that officers and councillors who have informal discussions before the meeting could find themselves chatting over very different meals.


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While the councillors will be enjoying a fine hot meal, their officers could be nibbling on a sandwich brought from home.

And while the councillor will be able to help himself to a coffee from the pot, the officer would have to look for the nearest vending machine and check he has the right change in his pocket!

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The bequest was left in the early years of the last century by a brewer called Tacon who was a member of East Suffolk County Council.

The money was invested and the income from that investment pays for meals for councillors before their regular meetings - there are normally eight or nine meetings a year.

County legal experts were today checking whether the food could only be eaten by councillors.

Director of communications Francis Thomas said: “That is a question we are still looking into, but it is a possibility that the food will only be available for elected councillors.”

However county council leader Jeremy Pembroke hoped that the rules would not be strictly enforced.

He said: “Lunch is provided for all 75 councillors, but there are only a few directors who join us - maybe five or six.

“It is very useful for councillors to be able to have informal discussions with senior officers over a relaxed lunch and I am sure a way can be found for them to share our lunch with us.”

Labour councillor Sue Thomas made the initial query about the lunches, but was disappointed at the response she had received from the Conservative administration.

She said: “I knew the meals were paid for from a legacy, but they have not told me how much was bequethed or how much is left in the fund.

“Things have changed in the years since I was first elected to the council in 1989 - in those days the lunches included wine. That was one of the first things that changed when the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration took over in 1993.

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