LABOUR-led Caerphilly council has been asked to consider scrapping the annual civic lunches and drinks for the mayors of neighbouring authorities.
Opposition group Plaid Cymru has called on their Labour counterparts to consider ending the tradition, which sees the council’s mayor inviting 38 guests, including the authority’s leader, deputy mayor and chief executive and their consorts, along with the mayors and chairmen of authorities along with their partners to the annual event.
According to information obtained by a Plaid supporter using the Freedom of Information Act, the lunch costs range from £1,156 in 2011-12 to £1,844, including the purchase of wine, to £1,031.85 in 2013-14.
Although Plaid supported such events during their time in control of the council, councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, says “times have changed”.
He said: “When in control of the authority, the Plaid group supported these traditional annual events because it provides an opportunity to meet and chat over issues and build relationships with our neighbours.
“But it seems from inquiries that while the annual lunches are held in south Wales that is not the picture in the north where local authorities do not feel it is necessary to hold them.
“These events might be justifiable when times are good and services do not have to be cut, but times have changed. We would like the Labour group to look at this event, and, indeed others, and examine whether they can any longer be justified to the public.
“Is a lunch and a drink on the public purse for other councillors justifiable any longer? This is not a criticism of any particular party but a request to consider whether this sort of spending is appropriate in this austere world.”
A spokesman for the Caerphilly Labour group said: “Our Labour-led administration welcomes input from all. We look forward to Nationalist councillors contributing to forthcoming Caerphilly council scrutiny committee meetings which will be considering our medium term financial planning.
“This would be more in the interests of Caerphilly residents than yet again seeking to score political points against our Labour-led administration." - which, in a recent national survey, was ranked top among Welsh councils for delivering high quality services and for effectively informing the public about our performance.”