Return of tea and biscuits causes stir in Lewes

THE restoration of refreshments during full meetings of Lewes District Council at taxpayers’ expense has been attacked by Lib Dems.

They had removed the provision of tea and biscuits beacuse they considered it needless expenditure and said reinstatment by the Conservative leadership would cost taxpayers about £600 a year.

Lib Dem Councillor Steve Saunders (Newhaven Valley) said: “This is a time that unnecessary costs need to be scrapped, not spent on councillors so they can feel important. It’s obviously not a huge sum, but at a time when we are all having to tighten our belts is it too much to ask councillors to get through a two-hour meeting four times a year without their tea and biscuits?

“We have all had to make little sacrifices and to go to the lengths of bringing this back shows again how it’s one rule for the Tories and another for everyone else.”

Conservative Councillor James Page (East Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs) hit back.

“There are many areas of cost reduction and service improvement that the new administration has identified. Expecting up to 50 people to meet for two and a half hours without any refreshment is not one that is considered a service improvement,” he said.

“That said, the inherited Lib Dem annual cost of £600 is being addressed by planning to move to a more appropriate meeting place.

“In the meantime the equivalent of 750 hours of council meetings attended by members and staff equates to less than 80p per hour. Our Lib Dem colleagues had no issue with taking refreshments at their meetings.”

Cllr Tony Nicholson (Seaford East), the Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “It seems they don’t follow the same rules. This is yet another example of Lib Dems attempting to point score rather than getting on with the real business of the council in supporting service improvements and delivering change.

“We have already proved our credentials by delivering a council tax freeze for next year, and this was before support from Conservative Central Government was announced.”