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Anger as council spends £15,000 on Lord Mayor's buffet

Thousands of pounds has been spent by Birmingham City Council on a boozy buffet to celebrate the appointment of the new Lord Mayor, it can be revealed.

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Maureen Cornish, the Lord mayor of Birmingham, pictured in May 2022. Photo: Darren Quinton.

A Freedom of Information request questioned how much money the Labour-led local authority had spent on both the buffet – and a ‘spread’ put out for councillors during full chamber meetings.

Birmingham City Council confirmed £15,257.04 was spent on the buffet, which took place on the evening of May 24. The buffet – officially called the ‘Mayor Making Dinner’ – took place after the new Lord Mayor, Maureen Cornish, was sworn in at a ceremonial full council meeting.

An additional £272.70 was spent on drinks – both alcohol and soft. It is understood the drinks budgeted were were only available to the new Lord Major, outgoing Lord Mayor and a small number of VIPs. Other guests bought their own drinks.

Items on the menu for guests included a starter of a tandoori spiced red lentil kofta, with a curried infused oil; a main of roast striploin of beef, Yorkshire pudding, and a selection of spring vegetables. Guests finished their meals with a desert of coconut and passion fruit panna cotta.

In July at a lengthy five-hour full council meeting, Birmingham city council confirmed they had spent £1,444.10 on a ‘spread’ for councillors to dine on. It is understood hot drinks, sandwiches and crisps were on offer to elected officials.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Birmingham taxpayers will be furious that a big boozy bash was held at their expense. While households face the worst cost of living crisis in decades and a 70-year high tax rate, local fat cats are gorging on three-course meals with all the trimmings.

"Officials should ensure that any future events are fully costed with ticket sales, or scrap them all together."

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “The Mayor Making Dinner is an event that is traditionally hosted for the new Lord Mayor, Lord Mayor’s Consort and their families along with councillors and invited guests – and arrangements for this are agreed by the cross-party council business management committee, so these are overseen by elected members.

“This year’s dinner was attended by 225 people including councillors, honorary aldermen, MPs and other VIPs including the Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff of the West Midlands, emergency services and military leads.

“It was held in the Town Hall as the kitchen in the council house was unavailable due to ongoing electrical works: the council house was last used for this event in May 2019 due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

“The £15,527.04 cost included a fee for lighting the venue, catering provided by the venue’s contracted caterers and 20% VAT. This was partially offset by income generated from ticket sales to 52 guests at £30 each, which totalled £1,560.”