Councillors dine out on ‘food fight II’

Councillors dine out on ‘food fight II’

A SPICY row is brewing again over a civic dinner and whether councillors should get a free annual bash.

Out-going Mayor of Kirklees Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield, pictured) last year ruled those attending should pay £25 per person.

It led to a boycott masterminded by his own deputy and soon-to-be mayor Coun Ken Smith, who paid out of his own pocket for rebel councillors to go for a curry in Huddersfield.

The pair buried the hatchet after their row to work together as mayor and deputy mayor for the rest of the year.

But now Coun Smith is making the Huddersfield Town Hall civic dinner on Wednesday June 4 free again.

The knives are out for him among Tories, who feel taxpayers should not foot the bill given the economic climate.

Tory leader Coun Robert Light (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) has even written to Coun Smith with his concerns.

He told The Press: “All those attending the event should only be doing so if they are paying for themselves and their guests before the event.

“Under no circumstances can we support the use of public funds for the civic dinner.”

Coun Bolt also changed event from being only for councillors and council workers into one also open to community groups.

He wanted to recognise the role they play generally and in the delivery of council services.

Coun Light added: “It’s a shame Coun Smith doesn’t appreciate how the council has changed.

“We should celebrate the council every year. All parts of the community should be able to come and nobody should get a free meal.”

Labour stalwart happy for taxpayers to foot bill

NEW MAYOR Coun Ken Smith defended making taxpayers foot some of the bill for a civic dinner.

The Labour veteran will cover part of the event’s £5,000-plus cost himself – but declined to say how much.

Out-going Mayor Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) levied a £25 per person charge last year.

Under Coun Smith’s plan councillors can pay or make a contribution to the mayor’s charity instead.

Coun Smith said: “I’m not changing anything, merely re-instating the normal tradition.

“This has only been broken once since the council was formed in 1974. That break was last year.

“I take a general view that all councillors, of all parties and of none, are working for our community.

“One meal in a year is the very least that the civic office can do to show our appreciation of their work.

“It’s entirely up to individual councillors to make a payment either to the council or to the official Mayor’s Charity. I would welcome Coun Light’s financial contribution and look forward to seeing him at the official dinner.

“I believe in promoting the dignity and tradition of the mayoral office and would hate to see it cheapened by any pettiness.”

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