A strange email arrives from the Local Government Chronicle. It's subject heading says:
Would Eric Pickles agree with you attending?
Then the email itself continues:
The answer is yes he would!
It concerns the LGC Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on March 13th and tells me "tables are going fast." It doesn't tell me how much the tickets cost. I would have thought that would have been relevant information. Still the Daily Telegraph reported last year that tickets ranged between £1,700 and £7,200 per table of ten. The cost may seem high but the idea is that the people going to the dinner don't pay it. The Council Taxpayer pays. The Chronicle makes a tidy profit and hands out awards to those who buy tickets. Everyone is a winner – except of course the unfortunate Council Taxpayers in the "winning" councils.
I am surprised to hear that Mr Pickles approves of the arrangement. In his 50 Ways to Save Money he says:
“Cancel away days in posh hotels and glitzy award ceremonies: Use a council-owned property to hold any away day. Or borrow a room from a neighbouring council at no cost, and offer a free room to them for their away day. Similarly, stop paying to attend glitzy ‘award ceremonies’ which are just an excuse to make money from local government; councils spend an estimated £1.2 million a year on such ceremonies.”
I gather Mr Pickles is also surprised to hear that he endorsed the event.