£450 wine bill to toast new cut-price Mayor

Pat Case wins Heath Charnock and Rivington for Conservatives
Pat Case wins Heath Charnock and Rivington for Conservatives

More than £450 has been spent on toasting Chorley’s new mayor, the Guardian can reveal.

The money was forked out on wine to celebrate Coun Pat Case becoming Chorley’s new First Citizen.

The revelation comes just months after the council pledged to slash the Mayor’s annual budget from £100,000 to £80,000.

In a bid to cut costs they announced measures that would see the number of events she attended and the annual Mayor’s Ball cancelled.

The new mayor herself also said she would refrain from wearing the valuable Mayoral chains in public to help reduce the insurance bill.

But, despite the cuts, 82 bottles of wine were provided for a civic reception held in aid of Coun Case and her colleagues polished off £65 of wine at the annual council meeting after her appointment was announced.

Defending the move, Coun Peter Goldsworthy, leader of the council, said: “Since we took over in 2006, we have reduced the number of events at which the council pays for hospitality, and now only buy wine for two key civic functions each year.

“It is served after the annual council meeting to celebrate the announcement of the new mayor and as part of the celebration meal at the Mayor’s Civic Reception.

“In the last 12 months, a total of £464 was spent on wine for these two events - £65 for the annual council, which was attended by 50 people, and £399 for the Mayor’s Civic Reception which caters for 160.”

The bill was split between the Mayor’s own budget and a designated budget for meetings, which currently stands at £1,000 a year.

However, leader of the opposition, Coun Alistair Bradley for the Labour Party, said that he believed the figures were only one part of a wider issue.

He added: “This is a difficult situation as we were critical of the council scaling back the budget for the fundamental role of the Chorley Mayor.

“Our concern is just how many functions the mayor is now attending as the schedule seems to have been scaled right back and the role reduced significantly.

“The council said that the Mayor would not attend as many functions, but we believe the Mayor is a key ambassador for Chorley and not just inside the borough, but right across the area.

“If they are not flying the flag for Chorley then who is?

“I think the most important thing will be to see exactly how much the new Mayor does during this next year and exactly how much it has cost.

“Mayors have done some fantastic work for the town in the past. Coun Ken Ball was a great example last year, as was Coun Terry Brown and they also helped to raise a lot of money for charity.”

A breakdown of the figures shows that the £399 spent on wine for the civic reception where 82 bottles of wine were purchased at £4.87 each.

The reception was held for 160 people and councillors, community stalwarts, charity representatives and members of the emergency services were invited to help celebrate the new Mayor’s installation.

Mayor Coun Pat Case said: “The only wine that we have bought was for the civic reception and we bought it from Tesco when it was on offer.

“I organised it personally and because we ordered it on the internet we got a further discount.

“There was an offer on the Tesco Finest range and so it cost considerably less than it would have done if we have had it supplied by a caterer who would also have charged a corkage fee.

“In the past if we have had wine at council meetings then the members have brought it themselves.”