Despite having to find £22 million of cuts to services this year, Labour in Gateshead have poured £45,000 into a plush revamp of the offices for the Labour Leader of the Council and the all-Labour Cabinet.
And Liberal Democrats, who discovered the spending following a Freedom of Information request, are demanding to know why Labour have put their own comfort ahead of vital services to residents.
The total amount spent by the Labour Council on office improvements for the Labour leader, cabinet and Labour group secretary is £45,264.89.
“I think this is a staggering waste of money at a time of severe cutbacks to services on which many people in Gateshead rely,” said Cllr Jonathan Wallace, Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead.
“Labour have clearly demonstrated where their priorities lie. Their own leadership now has a comfortable office paid for by taxpayers from where they can decide how to slash services to pay for their own plush comfort.
“At a time when cuts have to be made to balance the books, Liberal Democrat Councillors in Gateshead are committed to helping identify, wherever possible, ways of finding savings without harming front line services.”
The same Freedom of Information request also revealed that the Council plans to spend nothing on the Opposition Office which has not been redecorated since 1986 when the Civic Centre was built.
“Cash is in short supply,” said Jonathan. “There are more important things on which to spend than an office revamp. So I’m happy that the wallpaper and furniture (other than one seat) in the Opposition Office hasn’t changed in 29 years!”