Fat cat council chiefs forked out almost £30,000 feeding councillors during evening meetings in five years, the Bucks Free Press can reveal - in the same week foodbanks announced they are struggling to cope with increased demand over the summer holidays.

Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request show that from 2012 to 2017 £29,034 was spent on providing food and drink for Wycombe District councillors at meetings over the past half-decade.

The tax year from 2012 to 2013 was the most expensive as WDC paid £7,240.52 to feed its members compared to 2016 to 2017, during which £4,906.44 was spent on refreshments - £2,300 less than five years ago.

The statistics – which have caused outrage – were revealed just days after High Wycombe foodbank One Can Trust issued an appeal for more donations as families whose children receive free school meals struggle to cope over the summer holidays.

How much food can you get for £29,000?

  • 1,450,000 Bourbon biscuits 
  • 77,333 cans of Coke
  • 29,000 ham sandwiches 
  • 145,000 packets of ready salted crisps 

East Wycombe Independent councillor for WDC, Julia Wassell, questioned why councillors were not paying for their own food out of their basic allowance - paid to them by the council.

According to the Wycombe District Council website each councillor gets a basic allowance of £6,198, however councillors in a higher positions will receive a special responsibility allowance.

Cllr Wassell said: “I always felt we should bring and share. If I brought a packet of biscuits I could offer them round. We could all put a pound in the machine and get a coffee and snack. We are all in our groups, the Conservatives, Labour, East Wycombe Independents – we could all bring a snack and share it with our group. I don’t think it’s a justifiable expense.                                                   

“I think both councils have got room to save resources. I do have a cup of coffee but I am more than capable of putting a pound in the machine.

“We all get an allowance – we have £500 a month – then we get travel expenses on top of that. How are those expenses spent? They could go towards getting us a snack. Technically we are being double paid.”

Former mayor of High Wycombe and trustee of foodbank One Can Hope, Trevor Snaith, claimed leftover food was often thrown away when he was on the council – and called for leftovers to be donated to the fresh foodbank.

Wycombe District Council defended the expenditure insisting that sandwiches are only provided at meetings that are expected to last two hours or more – such as full council and larger committees – and soft drinks are provided at shorter meetings.

Spokesman for WDC, Simon Farr, said: “As the figures show, the amount spent by Wycombe District Council on refreshments for its 60 members at council meetings has reduced significantly over the last five years – with the council spending about £80 on average per meeting.”

Vice chair of Trustees at One Can Trust, Heather Stanley, said the charity has seen a “significant increase” in the number of children it helps over the last quarter of a year – and in March this year more than 400 food parcels were given away for the first time since it opened in 2011.

Anyone who wishes to help foodbanks cope with the growing demand can donate food at collection points across south Bucks or alternatively donate money.

For more information on where and how to donate visit http://onecantrust.org.uk/