The Osborne-Balls austerity consensus is biting, and biting hard where it really matters: councillors’ hob nobs.
Angry tweets have been sent from the Town Hall to complain about the lack of sandwiches at recent council meetings. Some outraged councillors cannot remember the last time they saw a jammy dodger in the Mayor’s Parlour.
And now an email has thumped into the Inside Croydon inbox from the fourth floor of Fisher’s Folly. Croydon Council may be able to afford a £144million council head office, but it’s run out of money to pay for fondant fancies.
Under the heading, “Refreshments at Council meetings”, a council official from a department called “Democratic Services and Scrutiny” writes: “You will be aware that the Council has been reviewing all areas of expenditure including refreshments at Council meetings. A decision has been taken that from now on food will no longer be provided at Council meetings.”
The real bombshell comes in the next sentence: “For this purpose food includes biscuits.”
This is all very worrying. You might think that an enterprising and entrepreneurial council official, someone like council CEO Nathan Elvery, could find some local business to “sponsor” the Town Hall biscuit barrel. Westfield, perhaps – after all, it seems Westfield has managed to get the council to buy up most of central Croydon for them.
The official email continues: “You are respectfully requested to make your own provision for food to meet any medical or other requirements which you may have.” There have been suggestions that Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor has taken to bringing Yorkie bars with him to meetings to stave off impending starvation through the over-long sessions.
“Tea, coffee and water will continue to be provided for those meetings where they have been provided. Please note that all drinks (including water) incur a charge from our provider. Water is free only if provided at the same time as tea and coffee.” Demonstrating that outsourcing creates such wonderful cost-cutting opportunities.
For the record, last year Croydon Council spent £1.5 million on “councillors’ allowances”, and it appointed someone to a job with a salary of £180,000 without that post ever being advertised. That’s a lot of Jaffa cakes.
Tough times on Katharine Street, clearly.
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