Wasting our money!

Budleigh Salterton Town Council is to spend �15,000 on new chairs for the Public Hall - a decision which one councillor has called ‘crass’.

Budleigh Salterton Town Council’s decision to spend �18,000 of taxpayers’ money on new chairs for the Public Hall has been attacked.

The council said the decision had been taken on health and safety grounds – saying the old chairs were heavy and uncomfortable.

But town councillor Roger Bowen this week said he was ‘saddened and deeply disappointed’ by the councillors’ recent majority vote.

Cllr Bowen said: “Such a crass decision deserves to receive the full glare of publicity.”

Budleigh’s mayor, Councillor Tom Wright, defended the decision, saying: “Residents of the town might, with some justification, question the spending of such a large amount in these difficult financial times. However, I would like to remind the community of the significant contribution the Public Hall makes to life in the town – a wide range of organisations use it.”

The chairman of the public hall committee, Councillor Lynda Evans, and, former hall chairman, Councillor Chris Kitson, who proposed new chairs were needed, backed the purchase of 250 aluminium seats, costing �18, 688.

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Councillor Kitson said: “The money spent on chairs wouldn’t have been used for other things.

“We have got the reserves and this is being done to benefit the community.”

Councillor Lynda Evans said: “The chairs are expensive. I am certain there’s going to be a lot of hot air about it. If people don’t like it, I am sorry, but a decision had to be made on the grounds of health and safety.”

The council will recoup the VAT on the chairs – making the total outlay �15,000.

The chairs have been sourced from a company in Honiton – it has been claimed cheaper alternatives could have been shipped in from China.

The total precept for Budleigh Salterton is �100,000, which the town council said would not increase in 2011 - 70 pence a week for a Band D property.

l Should �15,000 be spent on Public Hall chairs? Email becca.gliddon@archant.co.uk