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Council diary 'gross waste'.

Byline: Ciaran Jones Investigations Editor ciaran.jones@walesonline.co.uk

CASH?STRAPPED Cardiff council was accused of a "gross waste" of taxpayers' money last night as members were handed what were claimed to be errorstrewn diaries costing more than PS20 each.

Councillors were given hardback annual yearbooks at City Hall yesterday, with the bill topping an eye-watering PS1,571, meaning each of the 75 books cost PS20.95.

But eagle-eyed readers spotted several errors in the 222-page book, with members wrongly named as the chairs of at least three council committees.

The yearbooks contain contact details for fellow councillors and senior officers within the authority, despite the fact elected members are already given these in a handbook.

The council also forked out for 10 Filofax versions of the yearbook at a cost of PS117 and 20 softback versions - with no diary - for a further PS77, bringing the combined cost to PS1,765.

The errors in the book include naming Councillor Cerys Furlong as chair of the constitution committee despite the fact the role was taken over by Coun Ralph Cook in July.

The outlay comes as the authority looks to slash its budget by PS20m for the current financial year, ahead of a further PS50m in cuts in 2014/15.

Liberal Democrat councillor Ed Bridges, who submitted a written question to the council's leader about the cost of the yearbooks, said: "I don't think I have ever used the hardback and I stopped using the Filofax one year ago."

Independent group leader Jayne Cowan, who declined to take her copy of the yearbook, told the Echo the books were "very small with tiny print".

She said: "I am sure you could pick up larger diaries which are easier to read which would be two for a pound in a cheap shop somewhere.

"The council delayed the printing of these diaries to include the new directors' details but having them issued towards the end of November seems to be a gross waste of taxpayers' money.

"Cardiff councillors have committed to moving to a more paperless way of working and the details of meetings and contact details should be sent electronically."

A Cardiff council spokesman said: "Yearbooks are produced at a point in time so will be subject to some change over a year.

"They provide a very useful source of information for those members who prefer to have relevant contact details, information on committees and appropriate protocols in one place.

"The council is currently reviewing all spend in line with the recent budgetary constraints."

CAPTION(S):

Independent Councillor Jayne Cowan holds a yearbook issued to each of Cardiff's 75 councillors at a cost of more than PS1,500 211113YEARBOOK_02 ANDREW JAMES
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 22, 2013
Words:451
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