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Sitting in the lap of luxury?
10:09am Friday 4th May 2012 in News
TEST Valley Borough Council’s leader has defended spending £1,400 of taxpayer’s money on leather sofas and chairs for his office in a time of austerity.
Ian Carr said he thought the seating was good value.
The two Chesterfield settees and three armchairs, in red leather, were bought from a store in Andover that restores second- hand furniture.
The money for the chairs came out of the council’s Estates Services budget.
Mr Carr said his office had been without chairs for a year and a half after the previous suite had fallen apart.
“It depends whether you want the leader of the council and the people he talks to sit down or stand up,” he said.
“We chose to do something that we thought would look good, be comfortable and last for a lifetime.”
He said he did not feel the cost was “outlandish”.
“We have been saving up for them for a year and a quarter and they’re second hand.”
Liberal Democrat leader, Mark Cooper, who raised the issue, pointed to the fact that the council is proposing to close its Duttons Road offices in Romsey, with many staff facing being relocated to the Andover office as part of efforts to save £1.1m.
He said: “The key issue for me is not the money being spent,but the attitude that the leader has in these times of cutbacks.
“He’s equipping his office with luxury armchairs at the time when we’re being told to cut down and save money and when staff in Romsey will have to commute to Andover, or be made redundant.
“It just seems to me it’s rather hypocritical.”
Mr Cooper also questioned whether the money should have come from the leader’s own allowance, but Mr Carr said the seats were not for entertaining, but for anybody who came for a meeting in his office.