Taxpayers funded councillors' lunches

SUFFOLK: County bosses have been forced to admit taxpayers funded two free lunches for councillors despite the practice being scrapped under cost-cutting measures three years ago.

SUFFOLK: County bosses have been forced to admit taxpayers funded two free lunches for councillors despite the practice being scrapped under cost-cutting measures three years ago.

The confession comes after a spokesman had denied to The Evening Star that free meals were back on the menu at Endeavour House.

Earlier this year, a Freedom of Information request revealed Suffolk County Council spent nearly �14,000 on tea, coffee and water for councillors attending meetings between 2006 and 2009.

However the authority said food was no longer provided after a review three years ago found the council was splashing out the equivalent of �400 a day on refreshments.


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At the time, a spokesman said: “We ended the practice in 2006 as part of our money saving regime.”

But after Liberal Democrat group's deputy leader Andrew Cann revealed that a further free meal had been handed out in September, the council came clean.

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A spokesman said: “A buffet lunch was provided prior to the county council's annual meeting in July.

“A lunch was also provided at a working session prior to the full council in September where a briefing was given to all councillors

“There is no plan at this point to make this a regular event.”

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

“These 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,” he 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.”

Mr Cann said that he had refused to accept the free meals.

“The council calls them 'networking lunches' and there's normally 100 plus people there,” he said.

“They were buffet type meals so the statement that the council only allows tea, coffee and water just isn't true.”

Should taxpayers be forced to fork out for free lunches for councillors? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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