£400 A MINUTE COUNCIL MEETING ‘MOST EXPENSIVE EVER’

A meeting to announce new Labour Cabinet members in Southwark has been dubbed the most expensive council meeting ever – after costing taxpayers more than £400 a minute.

The £12,500 meeting last night (Wed 11 June) used chairs, tables and curtains hired in especially for the occasion, but only lasted a total of 30 minutes from start to finish. It means every minute of the meeting will have cost the council £416.67.

Liberal Democrat opposition councillors have hit out at the Labour administration for wasting public money on a "needless" meeting. They previously asked Labour to shift the meeting alongside another one which took place just four days earlier, but the request was refused.

The meeting was to officially unveil new Cabinet members in the borough, as well as formally establishing council committees. Southwark Liberal Democrats argue that it should have been joined on to another meeting to get better value for money.

The council’s Mayor Making Council Assembly meeting took place Saturday 7 June at Southwark Cathedral. Previously the Constitutional Council Assembly and the Mayor Making meeting were put together in one meeting. This year Labour decided to split the two meetings, which was opposed by Liberal Democrat councillors.

Last year the same Labour council was criticised for spending the same amount on a similar meeting before cutting it short to get to the new Mayor’s drinks reception, despite Liberal Democrat councillors calling a vote to block the move.

The cost of a single Council Assembly meeting at the council’s Tooley Street HQ is approximately £12,500, according to a council report in March 2013.

Commenting, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Southwark Council, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, said:

"At £400 a minute, this may be the most expensive council meeting ever to have taken place. Labour councillors complain that council money is tight, yet they are happy to spend thousands of pounds on a completely needless meeting."

"Liberal Democrats asked for this meeting to be joined on to another one already taking place, which would have made a lot more sense particularly as we had one only four days beforehand. Labour councils just can’t help themselves from wasting money."