Sometimes profligate spending at local councils spirals off into the realms of obscurity, and it certainly has today with reports in the press that Leek Council in Staffordshire spent £2,700 hiring camels this Christmas.
The camels were part of a live nativity that was originally put on two years ago and flopped due to heavy rain, so this year it was restaged for the benefit of those who missed it, though the cost of camel hire had risen by £700.
Cllr Steve Povey said: "We'd be accused of not doing anything if we didn't do these things”. We can be pretty sure that Leek had all the usual Xmas lights and decorations that are pretty much all we expect from our local authority over the festive season – aren’t they?? Would it really ignite residents’ fury if they didn’t spend thousands hiring animals and borrowing babies for some surreal live Biblical re-enactment? Cllr Povey is surely assuming that the people of Leek are fussier customers than is fair?
Justified or not, one thing is for sure – this story reflects badly on the council and makes them look like spendthrifts at a time when ordinary families are struggling and could do with a little less council tax to pay. Add to this misdemeanour the fact that members voted for increased allowances before Xmas and it looks as though Leek are adopting a rather cavalier attitude to public cash which will be attracting few fans within the town.