Search

Public speaking training for Tower Hamlets councillors leaves taxpayer footing hefty bill

16:47 04 February 2013

Public speaking lessons for elected members of cash-strapped Tower Hamlets Council have been costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds, it has emerged.

Councillors received lessons from external coaches – including from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - at a cost of almost £5,500 since 2004.

Training is provided as a matter of course for members who accept ceremonial roles, with bills for some coaching sessions running to almost £2,000.

The figures, released following a Freedom of Information request, have triggered criticism as the Town Hall seeks £100million in savings over four years.

Matthew Sinclair, who is chief executive of low tax campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Councillors simply cannot justify landing local residents with a bill for thousands of pounds to pay for this top notch speaking training.

“Those chairing meetings should have enough experience of watching others fulfil the role to know what to do.”

At least three councillors were given individual training in connection with their roles as Speaker or Mayor. All those named are from the Labour group, from which the Speaker has been chosen in recent years because of its majority in the council chamber.

In 2010 the Town Hall shelled out almost £2,000 for a group training session on “effective chairing skills” for 11 councillors.

But several members elected to receive internal training instead, at no cost to the public purse.

Labour group leader Cllr Joshua Peck said alternative options for training should be explored in future to save money.

“It is not right that public money has been wasted in this way”, he said.

“I would like to thank the East London Advertiser for bringing this to our attention and to assure residents that the Council must not spend these staggering amounts of public money on expensive training.”

But a council spokesperson defended the coaching, and said: “It is widely accepted across local government that providing elected members with relevant training is a good thing, equipping them fully to represent their constituents and achieve maximum value for local residents.”

Latest News Stories

07:00
Passers-by enjoy water spout in Old Ford [photo: Dan McCurry]

Water, water everywhere in London’s East End—and plenty of drops to drink, Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner might be pleased to hear.

Yesterday, 14:54
Conference on how start ups can make the most of collaborating with corporates

Start-ups were advised to be confident and know their worth when doing business with bigger companies at a conference about how they could effectively collaborate with larger corporates.

Sunday, May 24, 2015
New-born monster searches for her mummy

Children aged four to eight are being invited to a story-telling session about a ‘Mummy for Melissa’ in London’s East End as part of a week of half-term activities at Whitechapel’s Centre of the Cell.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Exhibition by Bow Arts earlier this month at its Rum Factory gallery in Wapping's London Dock

A prestigious arts education trust in London’s East End is holding its 20th anniversary birthday bash next month with the public being let in to peek behind the scenes—despite critics once predicting such things would flop.

Most read news

Competitions

The sell out 2014 event 32 Londoners, returns to the Coca-Cola London Eye!

The Coca-Cola London Eye is proud to announce that 32 Londoners will be returning this June, following last year’s sell out event. The event will feature 32 talks, in each of the London Eye’s 32 capsules on 32 extraordinary Londoners.

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Docklands and East London Advertiser e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder