A COUNCILLOR has criticised her own local authority for handing out a free bar and food to “privileged” guests at civic events, and says she will personally invite residents in need to similar upcoming occasions.

Wirral Labour Cllr Jo Bird has said she wants such events to be “open to all”, and that she would be “delighted” to invite people who rely on food banks to them in the future.

That may be as soon as next week, when her invite could tie in with a potential Tranmere Rovers victory event – if the club win their League Two play-off final match against Newport County.

A council spokesman responded by saying “almost all” events have no catering whatsoever, and where it is provided, it’s “done at the cheapest possible cost”.

Cllr Bird said if there is free food and drink, then she would share the invitation with “Wirral people who need these privileged opportunities more than I do”.

Calling it “freebies for the few”, she added: “I have noticed a few private, civic events recently, including free food and free bar. Are these civic events paid for out of the public purse?

“I’m not sure hundreds of Wirral people using food banks would agree the best use of public funds is to provide free food and free bar to a few already-privileged people.

“Wirral Foodbank alone provided 16,429 three-day emergency food parcels to local people last year.”

She said the council is paying senior decision makers “much more” than the real living wage, adding: “If people are working, then alcohol could affect their judgement. If there is corporate sponsorship, then such gifts should be publicly declared as an interest.

“I have asked senior council managers how much Wirral Council has spent on civic hospitality in the last year, and how much has been spent on catering for hungry or homeless people?”

Responding to Cllr Bird’s comments, a council spokesman said: “We are required to host hundreds of events throughout the year – civic functions, investment tours, community days – and almost all of them have no catering whatsoever.

“Where catering is provided, it is done at the cheapest possible cost and only when it is absolutely necessary.”