Cut-backs at Croydon Council continue – to road cleaning services, to the lollipop ladies outside our schools, in the flogging off of uninsured public art collections and to a wide range of public services – but not, it would appear, to the chief executive’s expense account.
Spotted in the latest set of official invoices on the council website are three bills, all paid for by the Chief Executive’s Office, and all on May 1, all paid to The Chateau, the somewhat pretentious and some might suggest over-priced French restaurant on Coombe Lane (which is so beloved of the local Conservative party that they often stage their functions there).
The invoices, as published as a matter of public record by the council, are for
All coming in at a tidy
of Council Tax-payers’ money.
Was that all just for a working lunch? Maybe the CEO had taken a dozen of his staff out for a meal to celebrate International Workers’ Day?
Perhaps the 60 quid is a 10 per cent tip? Elvery may consider that it is always good to be generous to waiters and kitchen staff with other people’s money. Maybe the £86.70 was for a round of digestifs after a useful session discussing how well the council’s austerity measures are working?
Nathan Elvery has only been in the top job at Taberner House as “interim” CEO for a few months, but clearly he has no problem in signing off large cheques for entertaining and hospitality, just as he readily signs off redundancy notices for council staff.
Of course, had Elvery been a little more discreet and ensured that the bill only reached £499, then we may have never discovered such extravagance on the rates, since the law only demands that councils publish invoices for public spending for more than £500.
We have to assume that the meal was on council time, and not for any private business Elvery might have to conduct. Because – and not for the first time – Croydon’s CEO did not respond to our questions.
A rather snooty manager at The Chateau tried to claim that he had no recollection of having served a £600-plus table at his establishment recently – so business there must be doing better than at some of the borough’s restaurants. But then, if they are able to rely on regular and generous business from Croydon Council staff, they could be alright for some time to come.
This discovery comes in the same week that £3 million-worth of furniture was being moved into the £140 million glass palace which will soon be opened as the council’s new offices for Elvery and his well-fed chums.
Apart from being a bit peeved at not being invited to such a slap-up meal of posh nosh, we do wonder what local government secretary Eric Pickles would think of it all.
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source that is actually based in the heart of the borough – averaging 44,000 page views per month, Jan-Jun 2013
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