An ex-council worker has criticised his former bosses for sending security staff on a day out – while forking out on temporary workers to cover their shifts.
Members of the Accommodation Management Services (AMS) team, which includes porters and security guards based at County Hall in Fishergate, Preston, were taken by coach for a team-building session, which is believed to have included a meal and activities at council-owned Borwick Hall Outdoor Education Centre in Lancaster on Friday, April 4.
An outside security team was brought in to cover their shifts for the day, at a cost Lancashire County Council (LCC) claims was less than £450. The council declined to say how much the trip cost.
The move comes in a year when the local authority is looking to save £76m.
Bob Whiteside, from Kirkham, who has recently taken voluntary redundancy from his role as an LCC security guard in the AMS team, said he heard about the trip from former colleagues.
He said: “The council is supposed to be cutting back, but they’re spending money taking people out for the day on a jolly.
“Services for old people and the most vulnerable are under threat, people are being asked to take redundancy, so this doesn’t sound right to me.
“This is taxpayers’ money and people need to know how it’s being spent.”
Eddie Sutton, assistant chief executive of Lancashire County Council, said: “Our Accommodation Management Service was restructured last year which involved a number of different teams merging, as part of the county council’s overall plans to save £300m over the next four years.
“This session brought the new team together to look at how it can work most effectively.
“Borwick Hall is owned by the county council, which helped to reduce the cost of this day. While this team was there, we still had a responsibility to maintain security and property services for our staff and visitors.
“We used some external security staff on the day, but reduced this cost by using some staff from other teams as part of this cover.”
David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: “I am not aware of the specific facts of this case, however, I would like to look into it.
“More generally, I have been very disappointed that the Labour-led Lancashire County Council has increased Council tax and closed a school in my constituency, all in a short period of time.
Borwick Hall Outdoor Education Centre offers a wide range of activities including caving, rock climbing, high ropes activities and canoeing, kayaking, and archery.
According to its website, “regular visitors include schools, colleges, community groups, local businesses and local government offices”.