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Council blows £345 a day on food and drink expenses

PUBLISHED: 12:50 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:56 25 August 2010

EXCLUSIVE COUNCIL bosses spend up to £345 a day on catering tabs leaving taxpayers with a staggering annual bill of £84,000.

EXCLUSIVE

COUNCIL bosses spend up to £345 a day on catering tabs leaving taxpayers with a staggering annual bill of £84,000.

Bexley council spent £30,755 more than their fellow Conservatives in neighbouring Bromley on food and drink for meetings last year, according to figures obtained by the Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

Both councils spent more in 2008 than the year before with Bexley frittering away £3,000 more and Bromley's £53,244.72 bill rising by £2,288.20.

In both boroughs, officers from Children and Young People services used caterers most often with Bromley council racking up £27,640 for that department alone and Bexley's unit requesting food and drink 34 times in one year.

Pensioner Elwyn Bryant, 73, of Salisbury Road, Bexley said: "It is terrible. Why do we have to feed them?

"It is the same as MPs claiming £100 a day on food.

"It is quite disgraceful that the bill is going up as our money does not go up to that degree.

"We have got pensioners that have to scrape by on £130 odd a week and these people think they can spend their money."

Bexley Social and Community Services called in the caterers 18 times last year, followed by the Chief Executives at 14, Customer Services at 10, Environment and Regeneration Services at five, and three times for other departments.

Council bosses claim sorting though the piles of invoices would take longer than 18 hours and therefore refused the Times' request for a breakdown of the bills.

At the time of going to press, Greenwich council had not released the information, breaching the 20 working days rule.

A spokesperson for Bexley council said: "The council identified catering as a potential area where efficiencies could be achieved.

"Refreshments can only be ordered when external parties are present.

"To date £68,000 per annum has been saved.

"The increase is actually below the rate of food inflation.

"The figures given represent all catering ranging from the unpaid co-opted committee members' cup of tea for attending a meeting straight form work to providing refreshments for the children's parliament.

"The majority of the spend on catering relates to basic refreshments. The provision of refreshments at meetings is extremely limited."

Bexley council shut down its own internal catering service during two years ago and began using outside caterers Zest4Food and Broadway Catering.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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