Fury over council's �23k black tie bash

RESIDENTS are outraged by Tory-run Westminster Council s plans to spend �23,000 on a black-tie dinner after losing millions of pounds of taxpayers money. City Hall bosses have refused to cancel their annual civic dinner next month, despite forfeiting �17

RESIDENTS are outraged by Tory-run Westminster Council's plans to spend �23,000 on a black-tie dinner after losing millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

City Hall bosses have refused to cancel their annual civic dinner next month, despite forfeiting �17million of public funds invested in failed Icelandic banks.

Last year's banquet was, according to guests, an extravagant affair with a five course meal and an abundance of free-flowing alcohol for "dignitaries and diplomats".

The decision to keep the event on the calendar has also enraged workers' union Unison after the council only just announced it was cutting 200 council jobs to save money.


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Labour councillors are boycotting the dinner and have called on Tory leader David Cameron to denounce the move.

Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, said: "Westminster Conservatives claim that despite losing �17million in now-failed Icelandic Banks it is still 'business as usual' at the council. It looks more like snouts in the trough, as usual. I call on David Cameron to denounce this unjustified waste of public money."

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The council has defended the event as an opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to community life in the borough. But for some, this is not enough to justify the expense.

Najin Patel, who owns Church Street Warehouse in St John's Wood said: "They must have lost their mind. In the news the country's going down the drain and they're spending so much public money on things like dinners. It makes me so upset."

Kay Konop, from Lauderdale Road in Maida Vale, added: "They should look at the sign of the times and think about scaling the cost of the dinner down. We vote these people in to use our money for good and then they spend our money on jollies. It makes us all a little bit angry."

Carl Upsall, chairman of the Marylebone Association, attended the civic dinner held at Lord's Cricket Ground in 2008 and described it as "quite a spectacle". Each guest was heralded by a troupe of Scottish pipers as they entered, as well as being treated to five courses of delicious food accompanied with plentiful bottles of wine.

Two hundred and fifty guests have been invited to this year's dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor of Westminster on March 22 at Lancaster House in central London.

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Robert Davies said: "Over the years this event has given the council an opportunity to thank the many thousands of people in the community who work so hard on behalf of their fellow Westminster residents. The event is not party political.

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