Labour bosses at Haringey Council have sparked outraged by forking out hard-pressed taxpayers' cash on new chairs for councillors. Each new chair cost the taxpayer £104.57, totalling £9,195.00. This figure was uncovered by Justin Hinchcliffe, of Haringey Conservatives, using the Freedom of Information Act.
Justin Hinchcliffe commented:
"Hypocritical Labour councillors wring their hands about having to make cuts to services. But they aren't interested in cutting waste or red-tape. They prefer to cut vital services in order to blame the Coalition government. This decision shows how they always put themselves first rather then the people of Haringey whom they are meant to serve."
Alan Dobbie, a former Conservative councillor and Mayor, added:
"The existing chairs were in a very good condition and didn't need replacing. This is a shameful waste of taxpayers' cash. What service has Haringey cut to pay for these unnecessary chairs?"
The Council say that the 100 new chairs for the Council Chamber "were purchased as the original chairs were in poor condition, did not meet current BSI standards and several had broken causing safety concerns. The old chairs are currently stored awaiting disposal." But Mr Dobbie, who was sitting in one until May, feels they are in "very good condition." Perhaps brave local journalists will ask to try sitting in the old ones before they are disposed of – then they can make an independent judgment.
Health and safety concerns should be proportionate. Was the risk of a chair collapsing and its occupant being injured sufficiently likely to justify spending £9,195? If a family were undertaking an economy drive would their first thought be to chuck out all the chairs in the household and buy new ones? Would the councillors have decided to get the new chairs if they were spending their own money on them?