Thirsty staff cost taxpayers thousands

IPSWICH: Would ya like a cup of tea, father? Ah go on! Unlike the many characters who fought the persistent offerings of Father Ted's tea-obsessed housekeeper Mrs Doyle, staff at Ipswich Borough Council have had no such difficulty accepting a free brew.

IPSWICH: Would ya like a cup of tea, father? Ah go on!

Unlike the many characters who fought the persistent offerings of Father Ted's tea-obsessed housekeeper Mrs Doyle, staff at Ipswich Borough Council have had no such difficulty accepting a free brew.

Over the last three years, the borough has spent more than �65,500 on tea, coffee, sugar and milk for workers and council meetings at its Grafton House headquarters in Russell Road.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, have prompted calls for an end to the culture of free drinks - a privilege rarely enjoyed by workers in the private sector.


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Susie Squire, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes, said: “We would all love to have free refreshments on tap.

“It is not financially viable right now and sends a bad message to taxpayers who are having to fund their own drinks. Ultimately, council employees should buy their own tea and coffee.”

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Ipswich Borough Council has already spent �19,457.65p on tea, Fair Trade coffee and sugar, and milk since April this year.

This compares to the �21,306.08 spent on a whole year's supply in 2007/08 and �24,824.60 in 2008/09.

This year's order only accounts for around half of the usual annual consumption, meaning costs could have doubled by next March.

However, borough bosses believe they will make major savings after recently changing their supplier.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “These figures equate to around 75p per week per employee and visitor. We are constantly looking at ways to save money and this will be included in our budget review process.”

Should council workers buy their own tea and coffee? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Last month, The Evening Star revealed how the borough's opposite number, Suffolk County Council, had splashed out �14,000 on tea, coffee and water over the last three years.

The authority supplies refreshments at all formal council meetings - more than 100 a year.

The cost of providing Suffolk county councillors with drinks - which totalled �13,940.08 between 2006 and 2009 - has fallen in recent years.

The council came in for criticism three years ago after it emerged it was spending �144,000-a-year on biscuits, sandwiches and crisps for internal meetings.

Bosses only discovered they were paying out �12,000 a month - the equivalent of �400 a day - on food and drink after a worker made a cost-cutting suggestion to help claw back a �24million budget shortfall.

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