Council ‘to relaunch Civic Hall gravy train’

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COUNCIL bosses have been accused of “relaunching the Civic Hall gravy train” after revealing plans for a new in-house catering service.

Leeds City Council’s original Civic Hall service was scrapped nearly seven years ago and private contractors Dine provided food for the council from 2008.

A new service called Civic Flavour has been launched, which will primarily support the Lord Mayor’s office and offer hospitality on its behalf.

The move has been slammed by the leader of the city’s Conservative Group as being the “relaunch of the Civic Gravy Train”.

Councillor Andrew Carter said he feared the service could lead to subsidised lunches for councillors at the cost of taxpayers.

But the Yorkshire Post has been assured the new service will have “nothing whatsoever” to do with providing subsidised lunches.

Coun Carter (Farsley and Calverley, Cons) said: “We all know where it is leading. ‘Subsidised lunches’ and ‘subsidised sandwiches’ for councillors and their ‘cronies’ and before we know where we are we will be back to the days of the poor old council tax payer ‘standing’ thousands of pounds of costs for a civic catering organisation.”

Coun Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said: “The new catering service will have nothing whatsoever to do with providing subsidised lunches for councillors.

“It will reduce costs and improve the quality of food on offer, so external groups who use the Civic Hall for events will be able to afford good quality catering at those events. In the past, the high costs and lack of cheaper menu options made it hard for charities and voluntary sector groups to use Civic Hall.”

At least 10 per cent of what the council spends on Civic Flavour will go to the Lord Mayor’s charity.