COUNCIL officers spent up to £80,000 of taxpayers’ money on luxury hotels and working lunches - including McDonald’s.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that 18 officers at the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council racked up a bill of £78,000 between April last year and March.
Hungry council staff also splashed more than £4,000 of taxpayers’ cash on working lunches from McDonalds and other eateries in the Surrey town.
One of the largest expenses was to a luxury country house near Worcester where councillors and staff spent almost £4,000 while visiting the Wychavon District Council to “investigate a specific public-private sector strategic commercial partnership”.
Another council officer even spent £25 paying a parking ticket.
Among the expenses was one just before Christmas - £120 on mince pies.
Bill Pallett, the council’s chief finance officer, defended the spend.
He said: “The ‘staff mince pie’ entry relates to an annual event for staff where the leader and chief executive invite all staff to join them for a mince pie to wish them a happy Christmas.”
“It’s very common nowadays for suppliers to require to be paid by credit card rather than on invoice, particularly those operating online.
He added: “Corporate credit card holders sign a declaration, which includes a provision that the card is only used for council business purchases.
“All purchases made using the cards are subject to relevant management authorisation and to external audit.”
Andy Silvester from the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Local residents will be livid at what looks like a total abuse of taxpayers’ money.
“These credit cards are designed only to speed up low-level purchases, not as carte blanche to ring up tabs for fast-food and festive treats.
“There needs to be far more accountability at the Council at a time when we’re trying to make necessary savings, and that means people must be held responsible for wasteful spending like this.”