Taxpayers fork out 27,000 for 425 guests to enjoy lavish three-course banquet in celebration of Birmingham’s new Lord Mayor
A lavish banquet was thrown for new Birmingham Lord Mayor John Lines
The authority has set up a committee to look at cutting costs next yearThe bill looks extravagant when compared to other major UK cities
16:49 GMT, 18 December 2012
Welcome: Councillor John Lines the new Lord Mayor of Birmingham at his 27,000 Mayor-making ceremony in May
A banquet to welcome a cash-strapped city's new Lord Mayor has cost the taxpayer a staggering 27,000.
A total of 425 guests donned formal wear and enjoyed drinks and a three-course meal as Tory Councillor John Lines became Lord Mayor of Birmingham, West Midlands, earlier this year – all at the expense of the city's council.
The authority, which faces crippling funding cuts, will now look at slashing costs for next year's event with front-line services said to be under threat.
The huge bill looks particularly extravagant when compared to similar ceremonies in the UK's other major cities.
Bristol council's annual celebration cost nothing this year, while Manchester's modest celebration – a lunch for 22 guests – cost just 440.
Only two other cities managed to rack up a four-figure tab – but bashes in both Liverpool and Leeds were still relatively cheap when compared to Birmingham's.
Birmingham City Council, which announced earlier this month that it faces a 110million budget shortfall – 40million higher than the 70million projected earlier this year, will now look at ways to reduce costs and the number of guests attending next year.
A committee made up of former Lord Mayor's will look at the costs of this year's dinner and recommend ways in which the council can slash costs in future.
Councillor Randal Brew, who was mayor in 2007, said: 'We are looking at what the cost of the mayor-making is and have broken the 27,000 down into a list of expenses.
'The banquet itself is 17,500 and we will be looking to significantly reduce that. We will also be looking to substantially reduce the number of people attending.'
The cost of the celebration was revealed after the Labour-run council's leader Sir Albert Bore issued a warning that entire services could be cut as the authority desperately looks to cut costs.
Costly: Taxpayers shelled out 27,000 for this lavish ceremony to welcome new Lord Mayor John Lines
The cost of the lavish ceremony 'reeks of hypocrisy according to Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the Taxpayers Alliance.
He said: 'Council bosses and civic leaders cannot maintain the moral authority to make necessary spending cuts if they are hold lavish taxpayer funded banquets.
'It reeks of hypocrisy to talk of wiping out front line services when you still manage to find money to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a mayor making shindig.
'Preserving tradition is one thing, but this event should be funded by sponsorship rather than the bill being left to hard-pressed Birmingham families.'
And union chiefs also hit out at spending such a large sum on the lavish banquet given the council's dire financial situation.
Regional secretary of Unison, Ravi Subramanian, said: 'The expense cannot be justified while services are being cut and people are losing their jobs.
UK MAYOR CEREMONY COSTS
Birmingham's lavish mayor making ceremony cost 27,000.
How local authorities in other cities celebrated the event:
Bristol 0: Chapel service, Mayor pays for small event in council parlour
Leeds 10,000: Total of 220 guests, three-course banquet
Liverpool 15,000: Total of 200 guests, drinks, four-course dinner and entertainment
Manchester 440: Lunch for 22 people
Newcastle 800: Church service for 200. Mayor may entertain small number of guests at Mansion House at own expense
Nottingham 600: Church service followed by tea and cakes
Sheffield 1,000: Finger buffet for 200 guests following annual council meeting
'We are pleased the council is reviewing how much it spends to reflect the current economic climate.'
Birmingham City Council has reduced its bar bill in recent years – the ceremony had previously included a separate wine reception, entertainment from a string quartet and a bugler to someone guests to dinner.
Since taking over as council leader last May, Sir Albert has also cancelled the 2,000 high tea at the monthly council meetings.
Tory Councillor Brew pointed out that, although Liverpool spent 15,500, it had 200 guests for a four-course dinner with live entertainment, creating a higher price per head.
The mayoral committee is looking closely at the authority's deal with its Civic Catering company under which it pays a commercial rate bill for food and room hire.
Earlier this month, Birmingham City Council approved 110million cuts to its April budget, with 90 jobs said to be under threat.
Almost 4.5million of funding will be cut from voluntary sector organisations which provide home start services and family support.
23million is to be cut overall from the Children, Young People and Families fund.
The authority may even follow Dudley Council's lead in polling residents on a council tax increase of more than two per cent.