Bid to give council hospitality cash to needy is thrown out
A MOVE to divert cash from a council's hospitality budget to spend on needy people in Erewash sparked a heated debate.
At a full meeting of Erewash Borough Council, Labour councillor Linda McGraw put forward a motion to cut hospitality spending by three-quarters with immediate effect.
Ms McGraw said it was time to help "the vulnerable and the needy" by giving the money to charity food banks.
Her motion said: "The savings made will be directed to projects supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the borough, such as the Long Eaton and Sawley Foodbank and Arena Church Foodbank in Ilkeston."
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The motion was defeated after Conservative council leader Chris Corbett told the meeting that the budget covers more than food and drink.
He said cutting the hospitality budget could lead to the loss of the post of a civic support officer and it also paid for events such as Ilkeston fair, the mayor-making ceremony, the Christmas carol concert and Ilkeston's twinning with Châlons-en-Champagne, in France.
Labour leader Alex Phillips suggested £10,000 a year could be saved by ordering members to pay the cost price for hot drinks, alcohol and food provided.
He said: "This is not the time to eat, drink and be merry. You should not be an elected member for the drinks – you should stand because you are interested in your community."
He also claimed some councillors had joined the civic party to visit the twin town, describing it as the "Erewash gravy train". He wanted paid-for visits to be restricted to the mayor, consort and one officer. This motion was also defeated.
After the meeting, Mr Corbett said: "The civic duties hospitality budget includes a number of key events held in the borough which are all major civic events are well supported by the people of Ilkeston and Long Eaton and are an important part of our local heritage. There are many charities and good causes in Erewash and for that reason we have a process of making grants and helping such organisations. In fact we have already supported the Arena Church Foodbank in Ilkeston with a grant of some £600 in the last year."