Taxpayers’ £3000 bill for council away-day

The Apex Hotel the managers used. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The Apex Hotel the managers used. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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CRITICS have rounded on top city officials after they splashed out almost £3000 of taxpayers’ money for an away-day in a four-star hotel – just a few hundred yards from their office.

Senior members of the city’s economic development department hired space at the Apex Hotel in Waterloo Place for the special one-day session with a management consultant brought up specially from the south of England.

Only ten managers from the department attended the away-day.

But the hotel – ten minutes’ walk from council headquarters at Waverley Court – charges £40 per delegate for meetings and with catering included, the bill came to £429. Carole Claridge of Sussex-based C2 Management Consulting, who led the event, was paid a fee of £2100 and expenses of £350.

Tory councillor Jason Rust questioned why the council was using a four-star hotel for meetings at a time of major spending cuts affecting services across the city. He criticised the away-day and said taxpayers will feel the funds “could be put to much better use”.

Cllr Rust said: “It has to be questioned whether utilising a luxury hotel only minutes from the council is an example of good practice and the best use of the available budget, especially at this time when drastic cuts have to be made. I’m certain there would be sufficient space within council premises to hold this type of event for a few senior managers.

“Where there is a need to use properties outwith the council estate, social enterprises or charitable and voluntary groups would no doubt be only too happy to rent space.

“If facilitators are having to be drafted in from the south of England at great cost there is something far wrong.”

The council confirmed ten managers from economic development had attended the away-day at the Apex Hotel on August 25 and claimed no suitable rooms were available on council premises on that date.

It said Ms Claridge had been appointed to produce content for the day, interview managers about how the department had performed against key indicators, research how other comparable departments in other cities are structured and produce a concluding report.