Bankrupt Slough Borough Council spent £28k on HQ's plants

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Dying plants at the council's HQImage source, LDRS
Image caption,
The authority has said it will need to sell off most of its buildings to cut its debt

A council that declared bankruptcy last year earlier spent £28,000 on indoor plants which a councillor said are now "dying".

Slough Borough Council bought the 200 plants for its £41m Observatory House HQ when it moved in 2019.

Its council leader has said the authority will "almost certainly" move out of it as a result of its £760m borrowing debt.

James Swindlehurst said he has been watering the plants himself.

Image source, LDRS
Image caption,
The council faces moving out of Observatory House, which the plants were bought for

Two reports last year revealed a catalogue of failings, including rising debts at the Labour-run Berkshire local authority, and the government appointed commissioners to oversee the council.

Earlier this week, Mr Swindlehurst said the council will need to sell off most of its buildings to cut its debt.

In an email, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), a council officer confirmed a one-off spend on the plants from a local business when members moved into the building.

Image source, LDRS
Image caption,
The plants at the council's headquarters were bought when the authority first moved in

It said the plants were bought for the staff's health and wellbeing, and to reduce the risk of "sick building syndrome", which causes headaches and respiratory problems.

The authority also spent £20,000 for a gardener to water the plants, but the contract was cut in September to save money, the LDRS found.

At a meeting earlier on 19 May, independent councillor Madhuri Bedi said the authority spent money on the plants as a "vanity project".

Mr Swindlehurst said he waters the plants occasionally, and that they are alive and will be taken care of whatever decision is made on Observatory House in the future.

But Conservative councillor Wayne Strutton said he was "misleading" when he said the plants are still alive.

"If you walk around the building, the plants are dying, and the spaces are empty. Let's be honest with the truth," he said.

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