Nottinghamshire County Council party cost queried

Image caption The council's leader said said the final bill for the garden party still had to be calculated

A decision to set aside up to £12,000 for a garden party for volunteers in Nottinghamshire is being defended by the leader of the county council.

Council leader Kay Cutts said it was important to thank volunteers properly and added it was "not a lavish event".

The leader said the county was aware of the need to save money and was reducing its hospitality budget.

However, the Taxpayers' Alliance said local authorities had to be careful about where they spend public money.

"Hospitality is not a priority when money is tight … so the council has to look at getting value for money for every penny of taxpayers money it has got," Emma Boon, from the campaign group, said.

"Is it right for councils to be throwing parties if they are going to be making cuts in other areas which will really affect county residents?"

'Say thank you'

Ms Cutts said the authority was looking carefully at its annual civic reception budget and was aiming to reduce it to £28,000.

"The hospitality budget is going down every year - and we have to say thank you to people who do things for nothing at all," she said.

The county council needs to save £21m over the next year as a result of cuts in funding from the central government.

It hosted the volunteers' buffet evening at County Hall recently but the final bill has not been calculated. Ms Cutts said it would probably come to a total of about £10,000 or less.

She said a drink and a sandwich was served to children who played music for guests at the event, but added the main food served at the party was fruit and a cup of tea or coffee.

The council will not be funding a 70th anniversary celebration for the Citizen's Advice Bureau, which Ms Cutts said would save about £4,300.

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