Stoke-on-Trent City Council scrapped its subsidy for beverages after the authority's 44 councillors downed 10,800 free hot drinks in the members' lounge in the last financial year. A drinks machine was provided free by a private firm, but the council was forking out more than £3,400-a-year for an average of 900, 32p deluxe beverage sachets each month.
Leaders admitted an 'honesty box' next to old machine was rarely used.*chuckle* Who’d have imagined that, eh?
The council said it has now installed a new machine for members who have to pay 40p a cup. But a staff coffee machine located nearby in the Civic Centre offers hot drinks for 15p.*gasp* What could explain this discrepancy?
It is understood the staff machine dispenses inferior coffee in slightly smaller cups, which is why there is a discrepancy in price.Ah. And, showing the financial acumen I really, really wish they’d show when ordering and approving huge taxpayer-funded white elephants and vanity projects…
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the City Independents, said: "They're charging 40p in the members' lounge but if I walk down the corridor and use the coffee machine for council staff I can get it for 15p.
"I'm not going to pay a quid for a couple of cups of coffee or tea when I can get two for 30p around the corner.
"I can't understand what they're up to. This is another fine job they've done."Yeeeees. It’s different when it’s your own pocket you’re dipping into, rather than the poor long-suffering taxpayer, eh? Then you’re quite happy to settle for smaller cups of inferior coffee!
The poor long-suffering taxpayer is overjoyed:
Alan Joinson, chairman of East Bentilee residents' association, said: "I'm over the moon that the councillors are having to pay for their coffees.
"If we go into Hanley we will pay £2.50 for a cup and I don't see why they should get it for free.
"Given the economic situation we're in ,there are too many people who still have these perks."Well, quite! Not that that’s reached the Southend area where they are busy installing an extra trough:
Councillors could soon be tucking into free meals before major meetings, despite slashing £12million from public spending. Bosses at Southend Council have agreed to pay for a two-course meal for all councillors and senior officers attending Thursday’s full council meeting for the first time in three years.
Tory chiefs argue the move lets councillors, who have to come straight from work to satisfy their hunger, as well as allowing different parties to mingle informally before official business begins.Oh, so it’s got social benefits as well? I’m surprised they didn’t demand a dance band too…
The move has been criticised by Labour councillors and campaigners, who called for the council to show “a little humility” .Because when Labour are in charge, they are all about the humility. Obviously.
Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader, said he decided to reintroduce a meal before the meeting after discussions with the three other group leaders and the chief executive, Rob Tinlin.
The meal will be used to gauge its popularity, and a decision will then be made as to whether to continue the practice for the rest of the political year – a total of five meetings.
Mr Holdcroft said there was a chance councillors could be charged for any future meals. He said: “My own view is that some suitable catering should be on offer to members and officers, and, in particular, those who have no opportunity to return home because of the length and timing of the meetings.
“However, assuming we can deliver a reasonable quality and choice, this should be subject to a charge.”It shouldn’t be ‘subject to a charge’. It should be ‘subject to the price you’d have been charged if you went to an equivalent restaurant’.