Suffolk: Councils criticised over credit card payments

The borough council spent more than �1million on taxpayer-funded credit cards over the last three years, it can be revealed today.

Items purchased included rollerskates, glassware for a golf tournament, a flight to Azerbaijan and a pilates course.

A national newspaper revealed the spending habits of councils across the UK, which comes after they were ordered to cut spending by almost 30 per cent.

The investigation found that some councils across the UK had spent more than �2m on travel during the last three years and more than �500,000 was spent on expensive gifts including jewellery and silk ties.

The figures, which come from a Freedom of Information request, show Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) spent �1,094,048 on a wide number of items.

These included �1,368 on gaffer tape, �569 on a pilates course, �954 on glassware for a mayor’s golf day and �960 on rollerskates.

Also purchased were �578 worth of staff name badges, an �825 flight to Azerbaijan and a payment of �575 to Ikea online.

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Charlotte Linacre, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is utterly reckless spending without thought for the consequence on other services or taxpayers.

“It’s scandalous that some councils have shown a fundamental lack of regard for taxpayers’ money. Shopaholic councils have been dishonest, claiming to be cash-strapped and threatening to cut services while they know they could be cutting their own spending.

“The nations finances are in the red and spendaholic councils who’ve been dipping into taxpayers’ pockets to fund their own lifestyle and perks should be ashamed.”

David Ellesmere, the leader of IBC, said: “Obviously we are a new incoming administration, but we would like to thank The Evening Star for bringing this to our attention.

“If anyone has any issues of individual items of expenditure they can pass them on and they will be investigated.”

An IBC spokesman added: “The reason we make payments in this way is that it is often the cheapest method of doing so.

“We are very open about our spending and are confident that there have been no abuses of the system.”

Elsewhere in Suffolk, Forest Heath District Council spent �20,410 and St Edmondsbury shelled out �89,540 with the majority spent on ‘court costs’ and ‘training expenses’.

Suffolk County Council, Babergh District Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, Suffolk Coastal Council and Waveney District Council have yet to supply data for the investigation.

<n> Is it money well spent? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk