Council goodbye cost ratepayers £13,000

Dungannon Council Offices
Dungannon Council Offices

Dungannon and Cookstown councils, which were phased-out in a cost saving shake-up of local government, have spent almost £13,000 on farewell parties and events.

Across Northern Ireland, the now defunct councils spent more than £300,000 on such parties and events.

Magherafelt council was the only one that did not incur any expenditure on initiatives or events to mark the life of the council, while the highest individual bill was lodged by Craigavon (£44,500).

An analysis of the majority of events were in-house council affairs, including lunches, dinners and celebration events for councillors and staff. This accounted for more than £85,000 of the total spend.

Historical events, such as exhibitions and the publication of commemorative books, also accounted for a sizeable proportion of spending, with more than £15,000 spent in Banbridge on the production and launch of 1,000 copies of a legacy publication.

The figures were released by the investigative news website, the Detail.

Information on the costs has emerged after it was revealed that the combined council debt and liabilities across Northern Ireland rose from £367million in 2008 to over £1billion for the 2013/14 financial year.

The £308,248 spent on farewell events, plus the scale of council debt, comes against a background of forecasts that the new super-council system would save as much as £438million over 25 years.