Suffolk

Suffolk Coastal defends £15,000 'farewell party'

Snape Maltings Image copyright Keiko Oikawa/Snape Maltings
Image caption The event will be held at Snape Maltings in Suffolk

A council has defended plans to spend £15,000 on a farewell party ahead of a merger with a nearby authority.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has invited 450 guests to an event on 15 March as a "thank you" for their contribution to the community.

Political opponents have questioned the cost, but council leader Ray Herring said the "celebration event" would recognise 45 years of achievements.

Suffolk Coastal will merge with Waveney District Council on 1 April.

Business leaders, parish councillors, MPs and charity organisers have been invited to the event at Snape Maltings.

Mr Herring said: "We are having a reception and buffet for quite a large number of people. We've got a lot of people who have made an important contribution, past and present, to the district's wellbeing and community life.

"We need to recognise that contribution otherwise it just passes."

'So much money'

Suffolk Coastal councillors have questioned the expense of the event, arguing that it could have been laid on for less given the funding difficulties facing local government.

Proposals to put up council tax by 2.5%, or £4.05 on a Band D property, will go before councillors next week.

Liberal Democrat Christine Block said she supported the principle of celebrating the "momentous" end of the council, and marking the achievements of its residents.

"I just wish it could have been done without spending so much money," she added.

Mike Deacon, a Labour councillor for Felixstowe North, said: "Had I been organising it I would certainly have had a different style of event.

"It would have been something that did not cost that sort of money."

The cost of the event also attracted criticism on social media.

One person asked: "How can councils plead the money is tight yet spend £15k on a party? Although the amount isn't a significant amount of their budget, they should be leading by example."

Another said: "How can such extravagance be justified in this age of austerity? Totally wrong."

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