Monmouthshire council's Pimm’s bill causes opposition uproar

Free Press Series: Monmouthshire council's Pimm’s bill causes opposition uproar Monmouthshire council's Pimm’s bill causes opposition uproar

A ROW has broken out among rival parties in Monmouthshire council after Labour claimed the authority spent around £67,000 on hospitality and £1,500 on Pimm's and canapés at one event alone.

Labour group leader Cllr Dimitri Batrouni accused Tories in the county of getting their priorities wrong, but Conservative deputy leader of the council Cllr Bob Greenland accused him of not looking into the facts.

The group has obtained figures showing the authority spent around £43,000 on items classed as hospitality so far in 2013/14 – but Cllr Batrouni says the up-to-date figure is £67,000.

Cllr Batrouni claimed that one event, the Chairman’s civic reception at Chepstow Racecourse, saw "unacceptable" spending of £1,000 on canapés and £500 on Pimm's.

The council opposition leader said the spending in 2013/14 would enrage Monmouthshire people and accused the Tories – the largest group in the ruling coalition – of getting their priorities wrong.

He added: “At a time when they are making cuts to services for special educational needs children, they are spending nearly £67,000 on hospitality. We would reverse this, drastically cutting the hospitality budget and spending it instead on Monmouthshire’s most vulnerable children.”

The group would like to see spending on hospitality capped at £10,000.

A list supplied by Cllr Batrouni showed around £43,000 of spending classified as hospitality, with at least £6,500 spent on hotels and £325 spent at Alice Springs Golf Club.

Cllr Jessica Crook, for Undy, said: “With the council facing such severe cuts that will effect so many of our residents, this is the first thing that should be reduced.”

However Cllr Greenland, deputy leader in the ruling Tory/Lib Dem coalition, hit back, saying much of what was in Cllr Batrouni’s list would not be defined by most as hospitality.

He says it includes room hire where the cost is recouped from external parties, and two payments to golf clubs paid for by the Welsh Government which were for the Flying Start initiative.

“Had Cllr Batrouni bothered to drill into the facts he would have seen the truth.” he said.

“It seems they have reverted to type and are more interested in trying to score political points. Instead they have scored an own goal,” he added.

A spokesman for Monmouthshire Council wouldn't confirm or deny the spending on the civic reception, but said refreshments were served.

He said there wasn't another venue big enough in the Chepstow area, and that the event had cross party attendance and attendance from non-councillors.

Comments (3)

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10:40am Fri 10 Jan 14

brainfreeze says...

Hear hear, in these times of hardship they should be served tap water and one rich tea biscuit if the event spans lunchtime
Hear hear, in these times of hardship they should be served tap water and one rich tea biscuit if the event spans lunchtime brainfreeze

2:23pm Sun 12 Jan 14

onlylocalhere says...

How about a zero budget for any internal meetings Monmouthshire?

Maybe you can spend some money explaining why pupils going into GCSE exams have had their support pulled - you will be pointing fingers at schools when their results do not come up to scratch!
How about a zero budget for any internal meetings Monmouthshire? Maybe you can spend some money explaining why pupils going into GCSE exams have had their support pulled - you will be pointing fingers at schools when their results do not come up to scratch! onlylocalhere

8:23pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Spinflight says...

Pimms eh? Typical tories with their snouts in the trough.

Join us...

www.ukipnewport.com
Pimms eh? Typical tories with their snouts in the trough. Join us... www.ukipnewport.com Spinflight

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