Calls for report on £16K Cambridgeshire mayor’s ball spend
After £16,000 of taxpayer’s money was spent on a private fundraising event, there are calls for a report from the monitoring officer into whether this was an appropriate use of funds.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s interim legal counsel and monitoring officer says he is “not aware of any specific prohibition” of spending on an event like this.
But he says he will look further into the rules after claims the authority had “underwritten” the event with public cash.
The mayor’s ball, held in June last year, raised funds for PTSD999, a “social enterprise” which helps emergency service workers who are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The combined authority say the event cost £16,574.33. Costs for the ball, including £14,194 for catering, are included on the balance sheet of the authority, which was set up in 2017 to oversee major transport and housing projects in the region.
The combined authority says the ball raised £25,960, covering its costs and raising an additional £9,385.67 for PTSD999 (plus, the authority says, an additional £1,600 which was raised for the group as a result of the night). This means the event more than covered its own costs.
But some have questioned whether it is appropriate that the event should have been included on the combined authority books in the first place, with some saying the public was “effectively underwriting” a private fundraising event.
Yesterday (January 28) the combined authority’s overview and scrutiny committee called for a report from the authority’s monitoring officer on the expenditure.
Cllr Philip Allen, who represents Harston and Comberton at South Cambridgeshire District Council said: “On a point of process about the £19,000 of public funds for a private charity function. Is there any guidance about the propriety of that in terms of the use of public funds for an event like that?”
Patrick Arran, interim legal counsel and monitoring officer at the combined authority, said he is “not aware” of any reason the money should not have been used in this way, but said he would look into the rules to make sure.
Mr Arran said: “I am not aware of any specific prohibition of an event like this, but I will have to look at it.
“There was a net figure which led to a payment being made to a group (PTSD999) at no public cost.”
Lucy Nethsingha, chairwoman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said: “I would like to see the scrutiny committee ask for a report from the monitoring officer on the use of public funds. We will have to report back on this.