West End news: £23,000! Tories dine out on taxpayers. Northumberland Hotel venue for lavish civic banquet

Friday, 5th February 2010

wnews020510_02

Published" 5 February 2010
by JAMIE WELHAM

TAXpayers are expected to foot a £23,000 bill for a magnificent dinner of pheasant being held by Westminster Council.
Invitations for the council’s annual civic dinner at the five-star Northumberland Hotel in Trafalgar Square were sent out this week.
Guests, among them lords, dukes, ambassadors and mayors, will feast on a “bespoke meal” when they sit down in the grand ballroom on March 9, a hotel spokeswoman told the West End Extra.
Unsurprisingly, opposition politicians have been quick to condemn the council’s largesse and will be boycotting the event. 
They say to go ahead with the dinner is an insult to people struggling to get by in  the current economic climate, especially in a week when the council announced mass redundancies.
According to the Northumberland’s publicity, “The Ballroom has not been available to use for over 70 years creating an incredible new venue that could give your event exclusivity that no other venue in London can.”
Leader of the Labour group Paul Dimoldenberg said: “Westminster Conservatives are living in a different world.
“Don’t they know that spending council tax-payers’ money like confetti on entertaining the great and the good at a time when ordinary people are losing their jobs and homes will further diminish trust in politicians? 
“Have they no sense of the public mood and the anger that many people feel about how some politicians have been taking public money for granted?
“We are also calling  on all Conservative councillors to put their hands in their pockets and pay the full cost of this dinner themselves.”
Deputy leader of the council Councillor Robert Davis said: “At  the start of each year at a meeting of the full council we approve spending on, among other items, a civic ­dinner. This is in keeping with practice by many local author­ities. Despite the tough economic climate we believe it’s important to thank some of the very many people in the community who work so hard on behalf of their fellow Westminster residents. 
“The event is not party political. Just some of the people we wish to show the council’s gratitude to for their essential work include representatives of amenity societies, the emergency services and local voluntary groups.”

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