Vale Council: Are you sitting comfortably?
9:02am Thursday 10th October 2013 in Penarth news
THE Vale council has spent more than £52,000 on chairs as part of its council chamber renovations.
The revamp, which is nearing completion, cost £248,130 and includes a stairlift, a suspended floor and chairs which allow for adjustment in height or back position.
There are 60 new chairs at £786 each and ten at £569
The chamber also includes portable microphones - in operation prior to the new chamber improvement work.
Television screens and other IT equipment has been installed to allow the potential for web casting.
The Vale Council said the existing chamber left the council vulnerable to action under the Disability Strand of the Equalities Act 2010 and was contrary to the council's own Equality Policy, but critics condemned the expenditure.
Vale MP Alun Cairns said the figures were “hard to believe”.
He said: “I question how many bus routes could have been supported with this money.
“I have no doubt that appropriate changes could have been made at a fraction of the cost.
“When the authority next say that they don’t have money for roads repairs or to support bus services, we need to remind them that it is all about priorities. Theirs are simply wrong.”
FocusBARRY chairman, Dennis Harkus said: “This can only be seen as another own goal by the Vale of Glamorgan Council. In a difficult financial crisis the council has raised the community charge by 4.8%.
“They continually repeat there is no money for anything and they have known for some time about a significant reduction of finance from the Welsh Government. Would they spend this sort of money if it had to come from their pocket?”
TaxPayers' Alliance campaign manager, Eleanor McGrath said: “Local residents will be astonished by the amount of money the council has spent on these refurbishments, particularly the amount they spent on fancy chairs.
“The Vale of Glamorgan Council can ill afford to spend so much taxpayers’ money on unnecessary items such as ridiculously expensive furniture.
“To have the moral authority to oversee necessary cuts in expenditure, councillors must ensure that any spending on themselves is absolutely essential and delivering taxpayer value for money."
A Vale Council spokeswoman said: “A range of furniture types were assessed for their functionality, longevity, ease of use, appropriateness and value for money. The furniture selected was felt to best meet these requirements. The tables and chairs can easily be moved to allow for much greater flexibility, which will enable maximum use of the space.”