Options for councillors’ catering arrangements due to be discussed

Councillors have been asked whether West Sussex County Council should continue to fork out for food for them during long meetings.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 9:48 am

The council has long provided a free buffet lunch during some meetings, with a hot two-course lunch laid on during meetings of the full council.

This, along with tea and coffee at most meetings, as well as refreshments at member days and training events, has added up to a budget of £25,000 per year.

Earlier this year, a survey was held, asking councillors whether things should stay as they are or if changes should be made.

The issue will be discussed during a meeting of the governance committee on Monday (June 28).

The response to the survey presented an interesting contrast to another issue on the committee’s agenda.

Some 48 councillors answered questions relating to the food service.

But only 12 had anything to say on the issue of dropping the County Local Committees which give residents the chance to ask questions of their elected representatives.

The governance committee is expected to recommend that sandwich lunches be provided on full council days and during some other long meetings and that councillors get their hot drinks from County Hall’s three coffee machines.

Of the 48 who responded to the survey, 38 agreed that savings should be made from the members’ catering budget but only 14 agreed that all catering should cease.

Only 13 felt the cost of catering should be taken from councillors’ allowances.

The vast majority – 35 and 44 respectively- agreed that any food provided should be healthy and lead to minimal waste, such as packaging.

The idea of cutting catering completely will not be on the table at the meeting.

A report to the committee said: “Members were asked whether the provision of catering should cease altogether.

“Many members felt that lunch provision helped with networking and noted that if members had to get their own lunches this might mean that break times would need to be extended, constraining business time at meetings.”