Council blasted for spending on “skinny lattes and Irn Bru”

The Tax Payer's Alliance said the council should "reign in its spending".

A CASH-STRAPPED Scottish council paid more than £11,500 to an English racecourse, it has emerged.

East Lothian Council also spent more than £26,000 to the makers of Irn Bru, A.G.Barr and nearly £7000 to brewer Heineken.

The council, who face budget cuts of 14% over the next three years, also paid out more than £5,000 to Starbucks Coffee Company and £14,204 to four local golf clubs.

Figures show that council spends on goods and services from April 2010 to March 2011 amount to £108 million.

A third of the council’s budget during this period went towards construction costs and more than 20% on social community care, but only 23% of the money was spent in East Lothian.

York Racecource received £11,600 from the council under “arts and leisure organised activity”.

Matthew Elliot , Chief Executive of the Tax Payer’s Alliance, today slammed the council for its spending decisions.

He said: “East Lothian Council have to make savings, they can’t afford to blow taxpayers money on racecourses and Starbucks. The council should reign in its spending on hospitality and fancy drinks events.

“Taxpayers have seen their councils tax bills nearly double in the last decade and now it’s clear where too much of that cash has been going, skinny lattés and Irn Bru,” he added.

Other high council spends made during the 2010/11 financial year include £217,358 on postage, £24,442 on seeds and plants and £61,832 on laundries and launderettes.


Home help services in East Lothian were axed as part of the council’s service cuts within its 2010/11 budget.

Taxpayers also saw an increased charge for burial, adult education, industrial rents, school meals and trade waste under a raft of cuts brought in by the council’s SNP/Lib Dem administration.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council defended the council’s spending, explaining that figures did not take into account money recouped from the companies by the council.

She said: “Money spent on York Racecourse came from Musselburgh Racecourse as they do reciprocal visits. Musselburgh Racecourse are responsible for their own funding, so the trip was self-financed and paid for by the racecourse itself.

“Starbucks is in the staff canteen and money is paid out by the council in advance and then recouped by staff buying coffee, it is run in the same way as any other Starbucks in the country.

“Barr provide Findlays mineral water to schools, as well as council buildings,” she added.

Figures on East Lothian Council’s spending are available to the public through a new internet service website.

The spotlightonspend site make figures on 720 public sector bodies nationwide available online.

East Lothian council leader, Paul McLennan, said signing up to the service was part of the council’s commitment to being more “open and accessible.”

He added “This key financial information has now been made easier to access and to interpret, and I am sure that our involvement in Spotlightonspend will be viewed as a welcome development by our council tax-payers.”