Suffolk Coastal council tax payers to shell out for £15,000 farewell party
PUBLISHED: 13:25 19 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:26 20 February 2019
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Suffolk Coastal is spending £15,000 on a “farewell party” for the authority – paid for by residents from their council tax.
A total of 450 guests from across the district – councillors, parish council officials, business leaders, MPs and charity organisers have been invited to the event at Snape Maltings’ Hoffmann Building on March 15.
Council leader Ray Herring said the event was a “thank you” to people who had made Suffolk Coastal one of the best places to live in the country over the last 45 years.
The district is merging with Waveney on April 1 to form a new “super district” – one of two in the county.
Opposition councillors on the authority said they saw the point of recognising people who had worked for the community – but questioned the cost of the event.
None of the other three Suffolk councils that are disappearing at the end of March are marking their dissolution with a party paid out of council funds, although there could be a chair’s reception in Waveney to which people will be invited to buy tickets.
Mr Herring said councillors felt it was right to mark the achievements of the authority – although there had been discussions at the council before the decision was taken to go ahead with the party.
He said: “A budget of £15,000 has been set aside for to commemorate and recognise the considerable efforts of many people on behalf of the Suffolk Coastal community.
“Around 450 people are being invited to mark the end of the council in its current form, including former councillors, staff, town and parish councils and members of the voluntary sector.
“We are also delighted that the Aldeburgh branch of the RNLI and the Woodbridge branch of Home Start will be joining us to raise important funds for their charities.
“An extraordinary amount of work has gone in to delivering vital services for our local communities during the past 45 years and additionally, this is against the backdrop of making more than £22 million in savings during the past 10 years in partnership with Waveney District Council.
“So, in comparison, the budget for this event – which will also benefit a local venue – is a tiny fraction of the money we have been saving during the past decade and it will offer genuinely deserved recognition for people who have made a huge contribution to Suffolk Coastal life.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Christine Block said: “On the whole I support the principle of recognising the people who have contributed to life in Suffolk Coastal – but I do wish this could have been done without spending so much money.”
And the council’s sole Labour councillor, Mike Deacon, agreed: “It is intended to be a very inclusive event to say thank you to many people who have improved life in Suffolk Coastal and I do understand the rationale behind that.
“If it had been up to me, I would not have done it in this way and I can understand why some people will have concerns – but there are a lot of people who have worked hard in the district who should be recognised.”