For once, the Bristol Post has done us a great service. A shadow of the great campaigning newspaper it used to be, today it exposes yet another reason why Bristol must take it’s opportunity to firstly get rid of mayor George Ferguson in 2016, but then take the opportunity to scrap the mayoral post once and for all. Bristol council taxpayers have found out today that £9,088 of their money was spent on providing sandwiches and refreshments for councillors in the year to August 2014.
These are not, I hasten to add, mere volunteers these days. They are often highly rewarded councillors, not least the mayor himself, who rakes in a more than generous £65,738 per annum. From his lofty position in the ludicrously renamed ‘City Hall’ – what was wrong with the Council House? – Ferguson is presiding over massive cuts to services, mostly imposed by central government, and is handing out free food and drink at a cost of £568 per meeting. That works out at about £8 a head for the 70 councillors at every single meeting. Nice work if you can get it?
The public sector, at least where I used to work in the DWP, has become extremely frugal in recent years and if you go to any event, whether compulsory or voluntarily, you pay for your own meals and that’s it. Not so much as a biscuit or a cup of tea if provided by the taxpayer. Whether you add, “and quite right too”, how is it any different at Bristol City Council?
£8 a head is quite a generous amount, especially if the food is provided in bulk by a private catering company. I cannot imagine Ferguson and co are existing of couple of sausage rolls and a jam sandwich.
A council spokesman told the Post: “Meetings of the full council typically last for three to five hours and many councillors and staff come straight from work, with no opportunity to eat beforehand. We believe therefore that it is right to provide some light refreshments.” Well, let’s look at it another way. No one has told these people they have to be councillors. They may well do the job because they want to serve, but if they cannot make time to have a meal before they go to meetings, have they considered standing down and doing something else? Can they not take, as I do to work every single day, a packed lunch? Or are they considered too important to have to provide their own meals? Absolutely pathetic. Perhaps the council can make some savings from its useless press office too, if that’s the best they can come up with.
At least George Ferguson, in his successful mission to turn Bristol City Council into a laughing stock, has proved that there really is such a thing as a free lunch and he’s been dining out on the back of the people of Bristol since he was elected.