FoI reveals Harrogate council spent nearly £3,000 on booze for staff party
Last updated Jun 9, 2023
Harrogate Borough Council offices at Knapping Mount.

Harrogate Borough Council spent almost £3,000 of taxpayers’ money on booze for a staff party, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The party was held to mark the abolition of the council at the end of March — even though nearly all staff transferred to the new North Yorkshire Council the following day on the same terms.

The Stray Ferret reported last month the party cost £14,910. But a full breakdown of the costs, including the amount spent on alcohol, was not known.

The FoI has now revealed the costs included £1,438 on beer, cider and lager, £630 on wine and £587 on spirits. Just £376 was spent on soft drinks.

The council also spent £4,745 on food, £450 on a DJ, £765 on event staff and £302 on decorations. A further £5,556 went on technical equipment for the event, which was held at the council-owned Harrogate Convention Centre on February 23.

Harrogate Convention Centre

The party was held at Harrogate Convention Centre.

The Stray Ferret was alerted to the party by an unnamed source who said they were “appalled, disgusted and downright annoyed that this amount was spent without the prior knowledge and consent of the people paying for it”.

Conor Holohan, media campaign manager of the pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added:

“Taxpayers will be shocked to find they were funding parties for council staff.

“While residents were struggling with the cost of living crisis, town hall officials were charging them for dinner and drinks.”

Final day parties

Seven district councils and North Yorkshire County Council were abolished on March 31 to make way for the new North Yorkshire Council.

Harrogate Borough Council’s final day staff party cost the most.

Scarborough was the next highest, spending £9,004, followed by Hambleton at £3,783. Ryedale awarded staff a £148 bonus and spent £3,001 on a party. North Yorkshire County Council did not spend anything.

Staff from the district councils, except the chief executives and a handful of others, transferred to North Yorkshire Council on April 1. It said in a statement:

“The new council for North Yorkshire did not play any part in sanctioning or organising any parties.

“For any further comment you will need to ask the district and borough council decision-makers who were in place at those councils at the time.”

Former Harrogate Borough Council leader Richard Cooper has declined to comment on council business since the authority was abolished.

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