Debate over meal breaks at meetings

CRAIGAVON Council’s new policy of not providing food before meetings has led to complaints from councillors from other districts.

It happened at a meeting of the Voluntary Transitional Committee (VTC) - designed to unite Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Councils - which was held in Craigavon Civic Centre.

And it left Banbridge council member John Hanna - who is diabetic - struggling until the meeting broke up at 8pm and he rushed home to Scarva for a late meal.

He said: “Our meetings start at 6pm, with many members having to go straight from their work. They don’t expect a five-course meal, but something to tide them over.

“All we got at Craigavon was tea and a biscuit and we understand it was provided by Sinn Fein members after Craigavon recently passed a ‘no more entertaining’ motion.

“I wasn’t told anything about it - otherwise, I’d have eaten before I went. Frankly, it seems a bit mean. They’re not saving the ratepayers much money and I suspect the ratepayers would feel highly embarrassed that their council isn’t even providing sandwiches for their guests.”

Former Armagh Mayor Jim Speers said that Armagh and Banbridge provided adequate nourishment for the meetings.

The ‘no entertaining’ motion was passed by Craigavon Council last month.

Alderman Arnold Hatch said: “The council now realises that the move is unworkable and embarrassing.

“As far as I know there are moves to reverse it. We did shoot ourselves in the foot in the heat of a debate aimed at saving money. Now it looks as if we’ll have to save face.”