Council’s away day in East End

As Tower Hamlets council braces itself for cuts it has emerged that it spent nearly �16,000 on an away day for senior managers – in the East End.

The council shelled out �15,803.75 for the day designed as an away day and conference for 173 members of the senior management team.

The bill included a �14,702.19 fee for hiring a venue close to council offices in Docklands for the afternoon.

They were split up into six groups at locations across Tower Hamlets in the morning including the Rich Mix, Barkantine health centre, Toby Club, Bow Police Station, Idea Store in Whitechapel and Wapping children’s centre.

They were then treated to a working lunch at a conference venue at stone’s throw from South Quay DLR, a short walk away from the council-owned Jack Dash House which is at Lawn House Close, off Marsh Wall.

The newly elected mayor Lutfur Rahman addressed the managers. Chief executive Kevan Collins also made a 45-minute presentation at the event. According to the programme the “not usual suspects” were invited to give feedback after yellow stickers were hidden on their chairs. The bill included �75 for microphone hire and �40 for parking permits. The council shelled out �522.40 for catering and picked up a further tab for �357.68 for venue hire and catering.

Tower Hamlets’ own council chamber can accommodate 120 people and it has other meeting rooms which can take fewer people. The bill was slammed by councillor Tim Archer who is a member of the overview and scrutiny panel said: “It’s like a mini jamboree for the day. This could have been done in the big rooms in Mulberry Place.”

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“What signal does it send when we are trying to make savings.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Investing in staff development enables us to continually develop and improve the services that we offer our residents.

“We do not have an internal venue with the capacity to hold 200 people, therefore we shopped around for the best deal within the borough.”