Storm in a teacup: Council under fire for spending taxpayers’ cash on civic dinner

John Mason – wants to scrap the civic dinner

John Mason – wants to scrap the civic dinner

First published in Echo News by

TAXPAYERS have shouldered an £18,000 bill for Rochford’s annual civic dinner over the past five years, a leading councillor has discovered.

John Mason, who represents Hawkwell West on the district council, criticised the council for holding the annual event as it makes cuts and introduces new parking charges.

This year’s dinner will be held on March 28 at the Mill Hall, Rayleigh, with tickets costing £40.

But some guests, including Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, the county’s High Sheriff, chairman’s invited guests and the Citizen of the Year, receive a free ticket.

Mr Mason, who represents the Rochford District Residents party, said more should be done to save public money because the council is increasing its share of the council tax by 1.89 per cent, and introducing Saturday afternoon parking charges.

He said: “It is public money the council is spending on themselves. It is a hangover from the grandee days of the Seventies and under the present circumstances it should stop.

“It could be argued that with the council inviting ‘stakeholder VIPs’ on free tickets that this could provide an opportunity to influence these people.

“But surely they would be better influenced by cogent argument and reasoning at a meeting?”

Last year’s dinner cost £2,276. The price has more than halved since 2009, and the leader of the council, Terry Cutmore, said all councils have a budget for civic occasions.

He said: “This is a chance for us to ‘talk up’ the town and what it has to offer.

“The Citizen of the Year is also invited and it is an opportunity to recognise his or her achievements.

“The only Rochford elected councillors to receive a free ticket are those that host dignitaries. All wives and partners or guests pay the going rate.

“All proceeds from the dinner go to the chairman’s charity.”

Comments (7)

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3:27pm Mon 10 Mar 14

RichLambourne says...

Good idea to scrap it or at least make the participants and their guests pay the full econonic cost

These are the people who put up the car parking fees scrapping the Saturday afternoon free parking which helped to keep the High Streets alive in face of out of town shopping centres
Good idea to scrap it or at least make the participants and their guests pay the full econonic cost These are the people who put up the car parking fees scrapping the Saturday afternoon free parking which helped to keep the High Streets alive in face of out of town shopping centres RichLambourne
  • Score: 18

3:51pm Mon 10 Mar 14

carnmountyouknowitmakessense says...

Mere chicken feed, over five years, a storm in a tea cup, is about right, parking at one of the many car parks, would pay for one dinner 10 times over.
Mere chicken feed, over five years, a storm in a tea cup, is about right, parking at one of the many car parks, would pay for one dinner 10 times over. carnmountyouknowitmakessense
  • Score: -11

4:07pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Democrat says...

In an era of austerity it make no sense to increase parking costs and, therefore, put more local businesses into liquidation, and at the same time spend £2.276 on VIP dinners. What you do Mr Cutmore is increase the dinner cost to £42+ per person and pay for the VIPs you want to rub shoulders with that way. It is all about ego and big-headedness, not about local democracy.

I can't wait to play my part by voting in May.
In an era of austerity it make no sense to increase parking costs and, therefore, put more local businesses into liquidation, and at the same time spend £2.276 on VIP dinners. What you do Mr Cutmore is increase the dinner cost to £42+ per person and pay for the VIPs you want to rub shoulders with that way. It is all about ego and big-headedness, not about local democracy. I can't wait to play my part by voting in May. Democrat
  • Score: 30

4:53pm Mon 10 Mar 14

TherealIndiana says...

Seeing as Mr Cutmore (oh, the irony) has sent Rayleigh up a certain river, without a certain implement with his utopia for over 1000 homes, waste transfer station and a travellers site on the west side of Rayleigh. Is up too his nadgers in dirty money with his cronies, he can pay for all their meals from what's down the back of his sofa!
Seeing as Mr Cutmore (oh, the irony) has sent Rayleigh up a certain river, without a certain implement with his utopia for over 1000 homes, waste transfer station and a travellers site on the west side of Rayleigh. Is up too his nadgers in dirty money with his cronies, he can pay for all their meals from what's down the back of his sofa! TherealIndiana
  • Score: 16

6:28pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Gay Ray says...

Lord Petre gets a free dinner does he? I'm surprised Hanningfield's not hanging off his coat tails wanting to get his nose in the trough too.
Lord Petre gets a free dinner does he? I'm surprised Hanningfield's not hanging off his coat tails wanting to get his nose in the trough too. Gay Ray
  • Score: 4

10:41pm Mon 10 Mar 14

Kim Gandy says...

This event and the date and time were duly noted at the meeting at Mill Hall last night.

By about 500 angry people.
This event and the date and time were duly noted at the meeting at Mill Hall last night. By about 500 angry people. Kim Gandy
  • Score: 1

7:48am Tue 11 Mar 14

Happy Chickie says...

These well fed people at the council should take the 18 grand and give it to the local foodbanks. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for having this event. Very poor taste Terry Cutmore.
These well fed people at the council should take the 18 grand and give it to the local foodbanks. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for having this event. Very poor taste Terry Cutmore. Happy Chickie
  • Score: 3

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