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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Council celebrates UK award with table for 10 at Grosvenor

COPELAND Council can celebrate winning a national award for “corporate governance” – but local taxpayers have been left to pick up a £3,000 tab.

This is the cost of the borough council sending 10 people to London to collect the award at one of the capital’s top hotels in Mayfair.

The ceremony was to recognise the work of councils in saving money and cutting costs through Choosing to Change programmes.

Copeland has proved one of the most successful.

Presentations took place at a black tie event at the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane.

Copeland Council, like other award winning local authorities from around the country, took a table in the Grosvenor’s Great Room, which is believed to have accounted for nearly half of the £3,000 cost.

But Copeland’s table was described as the cheapest. One council reportedly paid as much as £7,200 for a table of 10.

The menu apparently enjoyed by all started with a salad of Serrano ham, asparagus, rocket and Parmesan. Main course was tournedos of beef in smoked garlic and red wine sauce with pancetta, celeriac, French beans and Anna potato.

Pudding was vanilla cream with raspberries and brandy snaps, followed by a cheese board and washed down with various wines.

The evening rounded off with a disco, with delegates also playing roulette at a charity casino set up on the Great Room’s balcony.

Despite having to make huge savings over the next few years and making staff redundant, Copeland Council yesterday justified the expense involved.

The council’s party travelled second class by train and did not stay in the five-star Grosvenor but instead chose a West End “budget” hotel in Kensington.

Opposition Tory group leader David Moore, who was on the trip, said: “We were not being extravagant and the cost was not exorbitant.

“For us to win such an award in the face of competition from some of the top boroughs in the whole country was a great achievement and it was right that the people went to London for the presentation.”

Chief executive Paul Walker and council leader Elaine Woodburn headed up the 10-strong cross-party mix of councillors and two officers.

Councillors John Hully, Graham Sunderland, David Moore, John Bowman, Margarita Docherty, John Jackson, as well as staff members Tim Capper and Aileen Johnson, made up the rest of the group.

In a statement yesterday, Copeland chief executive Paul Walker said: “We were delighted to be announced as a winner of a prestigious national ward last week.

“Our success in achieving a Local Government Chronicle award for corporate governance was a testament to the hard work that has been made across the council to improve our work, through the Choosing to Change programme.

“We were pleased the judges recognised this success, and were impressed with the improvement we have made over the last two years.

“I am especially pleased for all the staff and members who have worked tirelessly to help the council improve and it is right that we celebrate this success.

“This achievement can only go to further develop the reputation of Copeland and the borough as a whole and is clear statement that staff and elected members from across the council are committed to making things happen and delivering improvements for the community.

“We attended last week’s awards ceremony and, recognising the cost of doing so, sought to minimise the amount we spent on travel and overnight accommodation.

“Our Choosing to Change programme has attracted significant external investment to the tune of over £125,000.

“In addition, the council has generated considerable income from services provided to other organisations. This has been used to offset the cost of attending the awards.

“The Choosing to Change programme is now a recognised beacon of best practice – with both the LGC and the North West Improvement and Efficiency Partnership.

“We will be building on this throughout the next year to ensure we share our learning and development.

“The cost of attending the awards including public transport, budget accommodation and the table at the event was just over £3,000.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “These awards recognise and celebrate the hard work and dedication of those individuals who continue to deliver vital services to communities at a time when budgets are severely cut.”

Have your say

Disgusting hypocrisy!

Posted by Jane Micklethwaite on 26 March 2012 at 14:56

this is utterly ridiculous!!
surely they could have continued with the saving money theme and NOT attended????????????
MUGS the lot of them!!!!!

Posted by ?!?!?!?!?!?!?! on 23 March 2012 at 19:23

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