Royal visit cost Manchester taxpayers £40,000

 

A council has defended its decision to spend nearly £40,000 of taxpayers' cash on hosting a Diamond Jubilee visit by The Queen.

She toured Manchester in March as part of her tour to celebrate 60 years on the throne.

A banquet for around 200 guests including the Queen Duke of Edinburgh was served at the city's town hall.

The Queen then inspected a community garden, especially created for the occasion, in Albert Square and rounded off her visit by attending an indoor royal garden party at conference venue Manchester Central.

Manchester City Council said the cost of £39,262 was “modest” for an event of its magnitude and was a quarter of what it should have been thanks to sponsors and “in-kind support”.

The visit also gave it the chance to congratulate its “army of volunteers”, it added.

The three-course lunch, made and served in-house, was described in a local newspaper as containing a “sumptious selection of local produce”.

First up was a twice-baked Lancashire cheese souffle, accompanied by a spinach and purple sprouting broccoli salad

The main course was steak and venison pudding with celeriac mash and buttered savoy cabbage.

Dessert was apple and elderflower posset with champagne jelly.

Among the beverages were two fine wines, a 2009 Puligny Montrachet and a 2003 Graves.

Two weeks before the royal visit, the council approved its 2012/2013 budget and the second year of its £170 million spending cuts programme.

A total of 2,000 job losses at the council were confirmed as it announced the details of the first year of its cuts plan in 2011.

A council spokesman said: “It would have been inconceivable for England's main city outside the capital to ignore the jubilee.

“We certainly weren't going to turn down the offer of a visit from the Queen and we put on a series of events that did Manchester proud.

“It also gave us the opportunity to say thank you to our army of volunteers and show that their work is recognised at the highest levels. These community champions are the glue that binds our city together and are a critical part of what makes Manchester so great.

“The overall cost of such a major event like this was modest - and, thanks to generous sponsorship and in-kind support, about a quarter of what it should have been.

“More than 1,000 community champions had their hard work rewarded, pictures of our city were beamed around the world, and we were able to create a jubilee garden that all Mancunians and visitors will be able to enjoy during the summer before it finds a permanent home at one of the city's schools.

“Like any leading city, Manchester has a budget for major events, which this was paid out of, so no money was diverted from elsewhere for the visit.”

PA

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