Councillors and officers to lose £122k dining subsidy

GLASGOW's city councillors are set to lose their subsidised bacon butties.

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Green councillor Nina Baker has argued against the dining room subsidy for many years
Green councillor Nina Baker has argued against the dining room subsidy for many years

City chiefs will axe their historic and exclusive dining room to make way for a commercial cafe.

Labour leaders agreed to dump the City Chambers' perk just days after agreeing millions in new cutbacks.

They have been under pressure for years over the exclusive George Square silver-service buffet, where they eat cheaply thanks to £122,000-a-year subsidy from the city's ancient – but depleted – Common Good Fund.

The fund – supposedly set up for the good of the city – had been used to foot the bill for the dining room because it provided "training" for the local authority's arm's-length catering and services firm, Cordia.

City Treasurer Paul Rooney has now dropped that argument.

Today he said: "The buffet belongs to another era.

"It is no longer the best way to provide either catering for the City Chambers or training for Cordia's young staff. We asked Cordia to put together a fresh approach.

"It will be open to everyone in the building and run on a commercial basis, at no cost to the city."

Nina Baker, an opposition Green councillor, has been questioning the buffet service for years.

She discovered none of the kitchen staff were qualified trainers and believed the facility was a waste of Common Good money.

Ms Baker, who prefers to take her tea from her own thermos, said: "I think the buffet is an anachronism. I don't see why anybody should subsidise my dinners or anybody else's."

Councillors ate for free in the buffet until 2007 when they started earning a salary.

Since then they have made a modest contribution to the cost – in theory they pay for the ingredients while meals are cooked as a training exercise. A two-course meal is currently £3.50 – with another £1 for a sweet. Coffee and tea is free.

The buffet is also open for breakfasts, with a roll and sausage on the menu for 90p and a roll and bacon for £1.

Ms Baker said: "The only place I know where you can eat as cheaply as that is a truck stop."

However, City Chambers' insiders stressed the dining room had fallen out of favour.

It is not clear how many people actually eat in the buffet, which has 48 tables.

One council source familiar with the operation said it only has around 25 customers a day – out of 79 councillors and the city's senior directors.

Another, however, suggested the real figure was closer to a dozen.

SNP leader Graeme Hendry said: "Closing the council buffet and turning it into a commercial cafe is a good decision. The current level of subsidy is not justifiable and the training benefits can be met through a commercial cafe."

Ms Baker, meanwhile, stressed neither elected members nor council officials had been consulted over the changes.

Food and drink

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