Rochford District Council Subsidises Gala Dinner

May 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The confusion over the Rochford District Council Annual Civic Dinner persists, but we seem to finally be getting a truer picture of the event.

According to latest information from The Chief Executive it would appear that;

  • 47 guests paid for their tickets at £40.00,
  • Also 16 guests, including three RDC Councillors, received ‘free’ tickets
  • And 11 ‘chauffeurs’ dinners were provided;
  • 7 at the reduced price of £10
  • the other 4 free for RDC Operational Staff.

(Not quite sure what the difference between the chauffeurs’ dinner is other than price.)

£90 is still owed by someone.

Confusion reigns because there does not seem to be any reconciliation between the number of tickets and the income and accounts are presented without the VAT element.

My maths calculate a gross income of £1950 and gross expenditure £3920. This of course excludes any staff costs as RDC do not appropriate such overheads to individual events.

This results in a loss of £1970 for the 47 paying guests, or alternatively a subsidy of about £42 per full priced ticket, meaning that the full cost should have been £82 instead of £40.

There are of course many other ways of looking at this.

But however you look at it the event makes a loss and is a drain on the public purse.

Multiply this across every Council in England and the potential cost could be substantial.

If RDC wish for a Civic Dinner perhaps they should ensure that it is cost neutral, or even better raises money for the Chairman’s Charity.

Certainly most organisations would not run a loss making event year on year and since the Recession in 2008 the cost to the community is over £16,000.

A little bird tells me that they might seek a Sponsor for next year’s do.

Perhaps we shall see a menu with builders’ soup, highway congestion of mixed vegetables and a large slice of humble pie.

Personally I think the answer is simple – raise the ticket price to cover all of the costs.

What do you think?

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Free dinner guests below:

• Chairman, Councillor Mrs B Wilkins
• Mr Martin and Mrs Julie Butler (Citizen of the Year Winner and wife)
• The Rt. Hon Mark Francois MP (Guest Speaker)
• James Duddridge MP and Mrs Katy Duddridge (wife)
• Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex
• Mr and Mrs Julia and Charles Abel Smith (High Sheriff of Essex and husband)
• Mr Nick and Mrs Pippa Alston (Essex Police & Crime Commissioner)
• Rev. Alun Hurd (Chairman’s Chaplain)
• Mr Malcolm and Miss Rosanna Hiscock (South East Essex Symphony Orchestra – one of the Chairman’s Charities)
• Leader, Councillor T Cutmore (hosting a table)
• Councillor Mrs Mockford (hosting a table)

Annual Civic Dinner 2014 – Rochford District Council

March 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

under thumbWith the furore created by the MP’s Expenses Scandal you might have thought that the searchlight must have been fully shone by now in to every corner, nook and cranny of public life and that voters now know the full story and public figures would think twice when spending hard earned public money on themselves.

But in our opinion there is another scandal in our local District Council which is all the more surprising given the focus that has been placed on our District Council to dispense with any unnecessary expense.  This is in a time of financial austerity when the man/woman in the street is suffering another increase in Council Tax which, combined with the increased Parking Charges, is the annual equivalent of nearly 5% in Council Tax.

So who is in charge of the Budget for the Chairman’s Civic Dinner?  According to Officers it is the Leader of the Council, Councillor Terry Cutmore.

When and what is the Chairman’s Civic Dinner?

28 March 2014 – Mill Hall

Ticket price £40

Black Tie

Pre-dinner drinks

2 bottles of Red and 2 bottles of White on tables

 It is probably better described by who is being invited.

All Mayors and Chairmen of Essex Councils (District and Borough)

The Chairman of Essex County Council

All Parish and Town Council’s Chairmen

Councillors of RDC

Essex County Councillors

Lord Lieutenant of Essex

High Sheriff of Essex

Chairman’s Chaplain

Chairman’s invited guests

Citizen of the Year winner, guests and nominator

VIP guests: – such as Police Commissioner, local Police, local Fire Service, local Ambulance Service, Chair of CCG, Southend Airport etc; and other key stakeholders as appropriate.

Senior Management Team – RDC

Who does not pay?  Among others we are advised:

The Lord Lieutenant of Essex

High Sheriff of Essex

VIP guests

Some of the Chairman’s guests and the Chairman’s Chaplain

Who are the VIP Guests?

VIP guests – such as Police Commissioner, local Police, local Fire Service, local Ambulance Service, Chair of CCG, Southend Airport etc; and other key stakeholders as determined by the administration.

What is the Cost (Total expenditure less ticket income.)

Net Cost over the last 5 years was over £18,000. Net Cost last year was £2276.

What is the purpose of the Civic Dinner?

To be honest I don’t really know in this day and age.  It looks like a “grandee hang over” from the 70’s.

I suppose it could be argued that with the Council getting to talk to “Stakeholder VIP’s” on free tickets that this could provide an opportunity to influence these people?  But

For many public office stakeholders surely the following rules must apply?

Gifts and Hospitality: You must not accept any gifts or hospitality which might, or might reasonably appear to, compromise your personal judgement or integrity or place you under an improper obligation. Where a gift or hospitality is accepted, this is recorded in a public register.

So Residents of Rochford District what do you think?  Should we be paying for this?



Full Financial Information supplied by RDC

Year Income Expenditure Net

2008~09 (1,912.99) 6,951.83 5,038.84

2009~10 (2,770.80) 6,499.51 3,728.71

2010~11 (1,731.10) 5,603.92 3,872.82

2011~12 (1,525.15) 4,721.50 3,196.35