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Councillors off on country manor jaunt’ on council tax

PUBLISHED: 21:20 17 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:35 05 October 2010

CABINET members at Tower Hamlets Council have left East London on an away day’ briefing with their senior officers with an overnight stay at a posh country manor in Kent. Members of the ruling Labour group may benefit from a stroll in the Garden of England’ this evening after recent attacks over the controversial departure of chief executive Martin Smith

EXCLUSIVE by Else Kvist and Julia Gregory

CABINET members at Tower Hamlets Council have left East London on an away-day’ briefing with their senior officers with an overnight stay at a posh country manor in Kent.

Members of the ruling Labour group may benefit from a stroll in the Garden of England’ this evening (Friday) after recent attacks over the controversial departure of their chief executive Martin Smith which is costing East End taxpayers £300,000.

The away day’ includes an overnight stay at the luxurious four-star Chilston Park manor house hotel in Maidstone, costing a special deal’ £2,500 out of Town Hall coffers.

FURIOUS

But the Opposition tonight were furious and lashed out at Labour for spending council money on jaunts amid the recession.

“It’s outrageous that they are spending taxpayers’ money like this in the middle of economic crisis,” Tory group leader Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser.

“Why can’t they just nip down to the Town Hall or go to Rich Mix arts centre in Bethnal Green which stands empty half the time?”

PUBLIC MONEY

Liberal Democrat group leader Stephanie Eaton, who grilled Labour council leader Lutfur Rahman over Martin Smith’s departure at Wednesday’s heated council meeting, also hit out at the spending.

“This is a ridiculous use of public money,” she stormed.

“They could have found somewhere in the East End—there are perfectly good hotels here. Or they could use the Town Hall.

“This is not what the people of Tower Hamlets are expecting from Labour councilors.”

LORDS AND VISCOUNTS

The Grade I listed country manor, which has been a home to lords and viscounts, is set back from tree-lined avenues in 22 acres of parkland.

The Advertiser has learned that 10 senior Labour councilors and seven high-ranking officers from the corporate management team are spending the night at the hotel, ahead of discussions tomorrow on the council’s performance and strategy. It’s costing £147 a head.

The hotel has a fine array of 17th century antiques and a restaurant awarded two AA rosettes for its fine dining.


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