ST Helens Council have spent thousands of pounds on refreshments for elected members over the past three years, new data has revealed.

A freedom of information request by the Local Democracy Reporter Service has revealed that between 2015-16 to 2017-18, the council spent £4,612 on refreshments.

Food and drink is provided for meetings starting at or after 5.30pm and for meetings which are scheduled to run over lunchtime.

The council say the money used to fund refreshments is taken from existing budget provision.

St Helens Star:

The amount St Helens Council spends on refreshments for members between 2015-16 to 2017-18 

In 2017-18, the council spent £1,522 on refreshments, a 25 per cent increase on the previous financial year, which was £1,215.

That figure is lower than the £1,874 spent on refreshments in 2015-16.

The costliest month in 2017-18 was May, where £290 was spent on refreshments. That month annual council met at lunchtime.

The highest total for a single month over the last three years was in September 2015, a month that featured several evening meetings.

That month, a total of £473 was spent on refreshments.

A spokesman for the council said: “A packet of sandwiches or a salad box is available for elected members attending early evening council meetings.

“This is to assist those who may come straight from a day’s work or who may have medical requirements.

“This arrangement is not uncommon and is in place at many other local authorities across the country.

“The council has an annual process to review its spending.”