SENIOR officials at Birmingham City Council are planning to spend almost £7,000 of taxpayers’ money on a lavish Christmas party.
The black-tie bash at the International Convention Centre, hosted by city chief executive Stephen Hughes, is invitation-only for 120 of the most senior town hall officials and has been described as a “festive managers network”.
But Labour councillors said it was a “kick in the teeth” for the 5,000 council staff who suffered hefty wage cuts this year. Some workers saw salaries slashed by more than £10,000 in a shake-up to iron out inequalities between the sexes.
The event on December 11 is being billed as “celebrating success 2008 and looking forward to 2009”.
An hour-long reception will be followed by dinner and a performance by West Bromwich-based singers Dreemz Choir.
Deputy Labour group leader Coun Ian Ward said: “This is an insulting slap in the face for staff receiving cuts in pay. It is an indefensible junket and a waste of money at a time when the economic downturn means many in this city will be suffering hardship. For senior council officials to go on a jolly at this time is just disgusting.
“I would hope the leader of the council will see sense, abandon this event and use the money more wisely instead.”
A council spokeswoman said: “In line with most large organisations, Birmingham City Council’s corporate management team regularly hosts working events with senior managers in order to share information and good practice.
“Although this one is taking place at the ICC it is a working evening and will cost no more than similar events that are held during the day.”
She said the cost was estimated at £6,771, £56 a head, and the evening would “feature talks and discussions on the council’s achievements during 2008 and how to continue the improvement that saw the authority earn a three-star CPA rating this year”.