Around 40 Conservative councillors, senior Croydon Council officials and their chums will be attending the annual binge of champagne-swilling and back-slapping at a five-star West End hotel next month that is the Local Government Chronicle Awards, all at a cost of up to £28,000.
But it’s alright, because the Croydon tables are being paid for by event sponsors – several of whom have contractual relationships with… Croydon Council. Cushty.
The Croydon Council officials and councillors – recently found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman – will have their noses in the trough at this self-congratulatory event at a time when the borough’s homelessness is at record levels, with young families forced to exist in dangerous and illegal conditions in sub-standard B&Bs, and with more Food Banks in operation around the borough than at any time in living memory. Classy.
And the borough’s leading Tory councillors, in their dinner suits and posh frocks, will shamelessly take part in this self-congratulatory awards event against the wishes of the Conservative-led government’s minister for local government, “Big” Eric Pickles.
The LGC Awards sponsors this year include John Laing Integrated Services, who recently landed a juicy eight-year, multi-million-pound deal to privatise the borough’s libraries, against the wishes of most Croydon residents. Also among the sponsors is Mace, the company that is overseeing the build and finish of the council’s £140 million HQ building.
Other sponsors of these awards on March 13, for which, extraordinarily, Croydon’s inept and gaffe-prone council is short-listed for four, are all in the business of pitching for juicy deals paid for by public cash. Cosy.
According to Croydon Council, though, its attendance at these awards won’t cost Council Tax-payers a penny, because the people it is rewarding handsomely to conduct council work will be paying…
Hayley Lewis, Croydon Council’s head of customer communications and strategy, told Inside Croydon: “Croydon Council has four tables booked at no cost to the public. The Local Government Chronicle identifies sponsors to pay for tables so that the many councils that attend the event do not have to incur a cost.” So that’s alright then.
The awards organisers, still trying to flog tables at the Grosvenor House Hotel which at the top-end sell for more than £7,000 each, have been caught out this week by the website, Conservative Home.
Conservative Home takes the same position that Inside Croydon adopted over the past couple of years when Croydon’s sad and deluded officers and councillors scrabbled on to the stage to be handed a cheap bit of plastic.
Conservative Home says of these “Town Hall Oscars”: “The cost may seem high but the idea is that the people going to the dinner don’t pay it. The Council Tax-payer pays. The Chronicle makes a tidy profit and hands out awards to those who buy tickets. Everyone is a winner – except of course the unfortunate Council Tax-payers in the ‘winning’ councils.”
Conservative Home also reminds its readers of Eric Pickles’s past statements about these sort of bogus award ceremonies. Council should, said Eric “…stop paying to attend glitzy ‘award ceremonies’ which are just an excuse to make money from local government; councils spend an estimated £1.2 million a year on such ceremonies.”
Given the recent Council Tax increase announced by Mike Fisher’s Conservative-run Croydon Council, against the wishes of Eric Pickles, it would be very interesting to hear the Secretary of State’s view of his party colleagues in south London.
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