Survey shows taxpayers will pay lunches

LUNCH bills for Suffolk councillors should be paid for by taxpayers, a survey has shown today.

LUNCH bills for Suffolk councillors should be paid for by taxpayers, a survey has shown today.

Suffolk County Council axed free lunches during internal meetings after it was found that £144,000 a year was being spent on biscuits, sandwiches and crisps.

But The Evening Star revealed earlier this month that councillors were still entitled to claim up to £8.13 from the staff restaurant if they were out at lunch time.

Readers of The Star took part in a survey to decide whether taxpayers should pay for these lunches - with 651 people answering the question 'should taxpayers be lining the councillors stomachs?'

The answer came back in favour of the councillors with 73per cent of readers believing taxpayers should pay for the food.

Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the council, told The Star previously the council had more important things to discuss and a council spokesman said: “Even if every councillor did claim their allowance it would be cheaper than providing a free meal.”

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Many councillors have said they would not collect the expenses despite being entitled to them.

Russell Harsant said: “I don't claim meal or travelling allowances I never have done in my nine years on the council.

“There have been e-mails flying around the group saying it would be best if we did not claim for these lunches but there cannot be an instruction. Councillors are entitled to the money if they want to claim."

If county councillors wanted to get the money reimbursed they would have to buy meals from the staff restaurant and be away from home for four hours or more over the lunchtime period.

The timeline includes their travel to and from the meeting and most council meetings start at 2pm so almost all councillors are entitled to the expenses at some point.

WEBLINK:

www.suffolk.gov.uk

Should councillors claim allowances for their meals before meetings? Write to Your Letters Evening Star 30 Lower Brook Street Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

If you would like to take part in our current web poll, visit The Star website at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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