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Union raises questions over hospitality list
8:20am Friday 6th September 2013 in News
QUESTION marks have been raised over why Warrington Borough Council has not disclosed details of gifts given to senior staff.
A Freedom of Information request by the Warrington Guardian revealed the list of treats enjoyed by council bigwigs.
Unison, the trade union for public sector staff, has demanded answers over why it has never been informed about the hospitality register.
Jason Horan, branch secretary for Warrington, said: “We are not aware of anything regarding gifts.
“We have never been informed and this absolutely something we should have been made aware of.”
The freebies included hospitality and tickets to a Twenty 20 cricket match at Lancashire Cricket Club.
They were given by tax and accountacy firm Grant Thornton to an unnamed finance manager. No reason was given for the gift.
Pre-game dinner and hospitality at Warrington Wolves was enjoyed by a former assistant director of neighbourhoods and culture in return for ‘overseeing promotional events’ for the RFL World Cup bid.
Mr Horan warned that presents could be seen as ‘backhanders’.
“Our question is what is behind these gifts and what are people getting in return for giving them,” he said.
“Going to a cricket match in Manchester has nothing to do with the work of Warrington Borough Council.
“We want to be informed of anything like this in the future.”
The gifts were given between January 2011 and January 2013.
A buffet lunch from Golden Gates Housing Trust to assistant chief executives was also on the list, and a dinner at the University of Chester.
A necklace was given by an unnamed councillor to another member of staff, while one social worker was given a mixed compilation CD of music.
Junior staff received bottles of wine, chocolates and flowers.
A spokesman for Warrington Borough Council said: “There is a code of conduct for council employees which recognises the sensitivity of accepting gifts and hospitality in the course of employment.
“It establishes the rules for when gifts and hospitality are acceptable and offers guidance for staff including declaring the gifts.
“Gifts will be rejected from time to time and it is the donor who decides who the gift or hospitality is to be offered to.
“Staff are made aware of the code, the last reminder was at the end of 2012, and advice is always available.”
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