EXCLUSIVE: Information request reveals the thousands of pounds council has spent on wining and dining (From Wirral Globe)
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EXCLUSIVE: Information request reveals the thousands of pounds council has spent on wining and dining
WIRRAL Council’s struggle to reduce spending by more than £100m has not been helped by officials forking out nearly £7,500 on food and drinks for special guests and local dignitaries.
A response to a Freedom of Information request this week has revealed £6,865 has been paid by the council to Hoylake restaurant the Portrait House in under a year on food, drinks and waiting-on staff for official functions at Wallasey and Birkenhead town halls.
Among those attending the lunches and dinners were the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral, local councillors and the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, as well as guests from the Royal Marines and army veterans.
The information request, submitted by a member of the public last November, asked specifically for the total bill from The Portrait House, The Royal Liverpool Golf Club and The Chantilly Tea Rooms in Hoylake for 2012/2013.
In its response, the local authority stated its total spending to The Portrait House was £6,865.80 while £623.59 was spent at the golf club.
According to invoices submitted by the council, invited guests were treated to three-course meals and mixed buffets which included poached salmon, mini-porkpies and duck spring rolls.
The total bill for waitresses and chefs for the various events came in at £800 while almost £190 was spent on table linen, napkins and paper plates.
The mayor’s annual lunch at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club last August racked up a bill of £96 for eight bottles of wine. The total amount spent was £623.59.
Catering for the Annual Council buffet came to £2,620.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Given that spending cuts have to be made, the council should be cutting back on the catering budget.
"If local politicians can’t even keep the lunch bill under control how are taxpayers meant to trust them to make the tough choices over public spending?
“Bills for this kind of expenditure should be published as a matter of course so local residents picking up the tab each time can scrutinise how their cash is being spent. "
Ironically, a special meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet next month is expected to announce large-scale staff redundancies and reductions to services.
Cut backs planned for the next three years total £107m.
A Wirral Council spokesman said: "The majority of these payments relate to catering for civic functions hosted by the Mayor of Wirral at either Wallasey or Birkenhead Town Hall.
"These include providing food for invited guests on occasions such as Remembrance Sunday and for other civic receptions. The catering was supplied by a local company based on their ability to provide the appropriate level of service and value for money.
"The event at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club was a lunch hosted by the Mayor of Wirral for other civic leaders from around the region.”