Taxpayers’
bill for buffets is scrapped

Cllr John Holdich
Cllr John Holdich
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Taxpayers will no longer subsidise food and drink, including alcohol, after Peterborough City Council meetings.

The cash-strapped authority will save £3,000 a year after cutting down on the offerings for councillors which used to include wine.

The Peterborough Telegraph revealed in June that elected members were being fed buffets after every Full Council meeting, with the menu sometimes including hot food.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich said reading the PT’s article had got his “thought processes going,” although he stated that the total was “a small amount” and that he had “never had a lot of hassle” from the report.

He added: “Every penny counts. We are in this together and we have to save money.

“The public think we all have our noses in the trough. I’m determined to show that we have not.

“We are asking the public to do things so we should be doing things as well.”

The council is currently campaigning to receive more money from the Government after having its main funding grant slashed at the same time as services have become increasingly stretched.

Earlier this month the authority agreed plans to raise council tax by five per cent for the second year running to help plug a near £19 million deficit in next year’s budget.

Cllr Holdich said previously councillors were able to claim a meal allowance if they were in a meeting which lasted three hours or longer, and that it was cheaper for the council to instead provide food themselves.

However, that allowance was removed when councillors received a pay rise totalling £186,000. The council leader added: “There’s no need for us to provide food.

“But we will still give food if we have important guests willing to spend £20 million here.”

The PT’s report in June revealed that a £260 buffet, including a £6 bottle of wine, was put on at the end of an extraordinary council meeting which lasted an hour.

In 2016/17, £4,455 was spent on food and drink for councillors, working out at £8.25 per councillor per meeting.

Buffets had included hot food such as mini fish and chips, as well as cakes, sandwiches and snacks.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council currently provides catering after some meetings, including Full Council, when it is unlikely that councillors have had time to arrange a meal themselves.

“In order to make savings the provision of food and drink after meetings has been scrapped. This decision took place in December 2017 and will result in ongoing savings of £3,000 a year.”