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Wycombe District Councillors snack on nearly £30,000 worth of sandwiches, biscuits and drinks over three years
SANDWICHES, snacks and drinks for councillors have cost Wycombe taxpayers nearly £30,000 over three years.
The total cost given by Wycombe District Council for sandwiches between 2009 and 2012 was £23,132.89 and the majority of these were provided for evening meetings.
This figure also includes soft drinks, which officials said was not available as a separate number.
The highest amount spent on sandwiches and soft drinks during this period was 2009/10 - £8,869.50.
During the three years councillors ate and drank £5,003.20 worth of biscuits, tea and coffee and last year drank £1,224.49 worth of soft drinks.
The figures were obtained by the Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act.
The paper asked for the same information from Buckinghamshire County Council, Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council.
These authorities have so far failed to provide the information, with only WDC giving out the data.
Labour Leader at WDC, Cllr Victoria Groulef, said the money was 'ridiculous'.
She said: “I don't think they are a necessary part of being a councillor, I don't think we should have them.
“Being a new leader and having worked in the charity and businesses sector it was a surprise when they provided sandwiches at my first meeting.
“I'm not saying I've never had a sandwich but it was a surprise in austere times and more often than not I eat before I go or take my own with me.
“If you're working through lunch, that's a different matter. There are occasions where refreshments are necessary.”
WDC said it only rarely supplies sandwiches at lunchtime as almost all meetings are in the evening.
Cllr Groulef said the cash could have been spent on something like a community centre.
Liberal Democrat Leader at WDC, Cllr Trevor Snaith, said: “If there's a meeting and it means people aren't taking breaks and working through I've no problem with sandwiches and snacks because the business and organisation is getting extra value for money.”
The refreshments are paid for from the Members Services budget, which is reviewed on an annual basis. It was cut from £11,100 to £7,500.
Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided for all meetings and sandwiches are as well if the start time is 7pm and the meeting lasts more than an hour.
Asked if the money represented value for the taxpayer, WDC pointed out last year's refreshment spend represented an average cost of £2.98 per councillor per week.
Spokesman Catherine Spalton said: “Refreshments are made and supplied by local companies [and are not pre packaged sandwiches].
“We are not currently looking at other methods of providing refreshments at meetings, but will always consider alternatives that could lead to improvements and savings.”