REDCAR and Cleveland Council has come underneath fireplace for a 4 determine spend on tea and low at its conferences over the past 12 months.
A Freedom of Info request revealed the native authority had spent £1,347 between April final yr and the top of March on refreshments at its council conferences.
Marketing campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance mentioned residents could be “fuming” on the determine and claimed the council, which is run by an impartial/Liberal Democrat coalition, was “taking the biscuit”.
It additionally identified in its newly printed ‘City Corridor Wealthy Checklist’ that there have been 5 Redcar and Cleveland officers incomes greater than £100,000 every.
Elsewhere, there was no such perk for councillors and workers in Darlington and Middlesbrough with each councils reporting nothing had been spent on refreshments at conferences in 2021/22.
In the meantime, Hartlepool and Stockton Council didn’t reply to the FOI question.
Redcar and Cleveland Council mentioned the reply it gave mirrored fees made internally for price range functions, reasonably than the precise value of shopping for provides, which was decrease, and the £1,347 determine additionally included notional workers time and different prices.
Redcar MP Jacob Younger advised the Native Democracy Reporting Service he felt it was “cheap” for refreshments to be offered, however councils needed to be aware of their spending within the present financial local weather.
Mr Younger mentioned: “It’s not clear what number of conferences this annual expenditure represents, nor the dimensions or nature of these conferences, so it’s troublesome to attract any conclusions as as to whether or not this can be a concern.
“I recall when Labour have been in control of Redcar and Cleveland Council they have been paying £800 to arrange and take out tiered seating after every council assembly, so this tea and low invoice for a full yr ought to be seen in that context.
“I feel it’s cheap for an area authority to supply refreshments at conferences with elected members and officers, which can additionally embody members of the general public and visitors from different organisations invited to attend.
“Nevertheless it’s after all vital that councils throughout Teesside deal with public funds responsibly, whereas being aware of the plain monetary pressures that all of us face within the present financial local weather.”
Like all councils, Redcar and Cleveland turned to digital conferences in the course of the covid-19 pandemic, which means councillors thirsty for a brew throughout conferences would have needed to make a cuppa at house.
However after a path from managing director John Sampson and in step with a soothing of Authorities restrictions, the authority returned to assembly within the council chamber at its headquarters in Ridley Road, Redcar, earlier this yr with tea and low making amenities additionally making a return.
‘Value of residing disaster’
Harry Fone, a marketing campaign supervisor on the TaxPayers’ Alliance, mentioned: “Taxpayers in Redcar and Cleveland fighting a value of residing disaster will probably be fuming at these figures.
“Whereas households are pressured to tighten their belts, it appears councillors and council officers are loosening theirs.
“City corridor workers ought to cease taking the biscuit and make some much-needed financial savings for his or her residents.”
The council did freeze its portion of the council tax for 2022/23 in recognition of value of residing worth hikes, however solely after beforehand going out to session over a improve, whereas principle will increase for the likes of police and fireplace meant payments total nonetheless went up anyway.
A press release from the council mentioned: “In frequent with different native authorities throughout the nation the council doesn’t usually present refreshments for employees, however does provide immediate tea and low for contributors who attend dozens of public conferences over the yr and which typically final for a number of hours.
“The authority not gives biscuits or another meals for these conferences and the price of offering refreshments has been lowered in recent times.
“Moreover, these figures don’t take account of revenue that the authority makes from the sale of teas and low to exterior organisations who rent council amenities in the middle of a yr, which might should be offset towards any expenditure.”
On salaries for main officers, it mentioned they have been just like these inside different native councils and primarily based on a clear pay construction, which included job analysis of roles to make sure they have been remunerated at charges in accordance with the extent of duty.
Redcar and Cleveland Council beforehand distributed with the position of chief government – final stuffed by Amanda Skelton till her retirement – as a part of a value saving restructure.
It additionally mentioned salaries had been frozen for a number of years, solely rising in step with nationally negotiated pay awards.
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