“Dishonesty” box scrapped by Edinburgh City Council 335


By Kate Smail

STINGY councillors who cheated a lunchtime honesty box out of over £900 have forced the scheme to close.

Cash-strapped bosses at Edinburgh City Council set up the voluntary payment system six months ago after suffering criticism for doling out free meals to its members at meetings.

Instead, councillors were asked to contribute a small amount into the box after council business to cover the food they had eaten.

But in the six months the scheme ran, the miserly councillors only coughed up around half of the total money owed.

In fact, the greedy group racked up debts of around £200 for every month the honesty box was in operation.

Yesterday, a council source said: “It’s disgraceful that you can’t trust elected with something as simple as paying for their lunch. How are we meant to then trust them on the bigger issues?

“I hope they are more careful with their sums when they’re calculating the new budget.”

The steps to cut the free lunches were taken last year as a cost-cutting measure to save £45,000 in unnecessary expense.

Councillors were meant to stump up just £1.10 for soup and a roll, and £1.60 for a sandwich.

But even the low prices couldn’t force them to part with their money, and now red-faced council chiefs have had to axe the system.

They will still be entitled to a free tea or coffee, but now instead of helping themselves, councillors will pay for their food at the canteen.

Council leader Jenny Dawe said the failure of the scheme was disappointing.

She said: “An honesty box was trialled and it is disappointing that this did not recoup full costs.

“We have therefore decided to scrap this system with immediate effect.”