Brighton and Hove Tory councillor slammed for luxury hotel bill

Geoffrey Theobald

Geoffrey Theobald

First published in News by

A councillor has been labelled hypocritical by unions after criticising strike action in the same week that he charged more than £800 to the taxpayer to attend a conference.

Brighton and Hove City Council Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald questioned whether striking council workers’ demands for a pay rise were affordable, while he was staying at a £200-a-night hotel.

A mass, nationwide multi-union strike saw thousands of council staff take to the city streets in a dispute over pay on the final day of the annual Local Government Association (LGA) conference.

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said it was hypocritical for the councillor to question affordability of pay rises at the same time as racking up a hefty hotel bill for a three-night stay at a luxury hotel.

The veteran councillor defended the expense, saying the conference was of vital importance in representing the interests of the city.

Councillor Theobald was one of five council representatives at the LGA conference in Bournemouth at the beginning of July, along with council leader Jason Kitcat, community safety lead Liz Wakefield, independent councillor Christina Summers and chief executive Penny Thompson.

All five representatives charged the costs of the near-£500 registration fees back to the council as well as hotel costs. The cost of Coun Theobald’s total room costs were £621 of which, under council rules, he can claim back £114 a night in expenses and repay the rest out of his own pocket.

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “I think it’s absolutely outrageous that he felt he was able to criticise a legitimate strike over a legitimate claim by low-paid workers while living it up on our members and taxpayers’ council tax contributions.

“As he was putting out the statement, he was probably having croissants in some luxury hotel in Bournemouth.”

Coun Theobald said the LGA Conference was the only local government conference he attended every year and represented “an extremely useful opportunity”.

He said: “It is a little rich for the trade unions to be criticising me over the use of taxpayers’ money when they receive around £250,000 from the council taxpayer to fund seven full-time officials who seem to spend most of their time campaigning against the Government and blocking much-needed reforms to expensive council-run services.

“I didn’t agree with the trade union bosses calling this strike, based on just 8% support in the case of Unison, and therefore I was more than happy to carry on my business as a councillor and group leader as normal.”

Comments (14)

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6:19pm Sat 2 Aug 14

Bill in Hanover says...

I was a senior union representative and attended a union conference in Brighton and stayed for the 3 nights in the Ship hotel. The full time union officials and executives stayed at the Grand Hotel which is probably almost as expensive as the one in this article.
I was a senior union representative and attended a union conference in Brighton and stayed for the 3 nights in the Ship hotel. The full time union officials and executives stayed at the Grand Hotel which is probably almost as expensive as the one in this article. Bill in Hanover
  • Score: 30

7:18pm Sat 2 Aug 14

Andy R says...

Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?
Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days? Andy R
  • Score: -33

8:23pm Sat 2 Aug 14

NickBtn says...

The reporting here is a bit biased. Geoffrey might have been staying at a £200 a night hotel but we only paid just over half of that as the article quotes a limit of £114 per night. So he paid £279 towards his own accommodation - his right to do that I think?

I'm not sure that the story here is whether one councillor paid their own hotel bill, it's whether we need to send 5 delegates or attend at all? At a time of cuts, does this give enough value versus the costs. And while on costs, do council funded union officials really cost £35k each per year and do we need to fund 7 of them? Unions are important, but their members pay fees. Do council tax payers (including low paid families) really need to fund unions? Can't this money be used to reduce the service cuts?
The reporting here is a bit biased. Geoffrey might have been staying at a £200 a night hotel but we only paid just over half of that as the article quotes a limit of £114 per night. So he paid £279 towards his own accommodation - his right to do that I think? I'm not sure that the story here is whether one councillor paid their own hotel bill, it's whether we need to send 5 delegates or attend at all? At a time of cuts, does this give enough value versus the costs. And while on costs, do council funded union officials really cost £35k each per year and do we need to fund 7 of them? Unions are important, but their members pay fees. Do council tax payers (including low paid families) really need to fund unions? Can't this money be used to reduce the service cuts? NickBtn
  • Score: 21

8:55pm Sat 2 Aug 14

rolivan says...

Typical Politician never addressing the real problem .It was the Cost of the Hotel room not the fact that you attended the Conference.
Typical Politician never addressing the real problem .It was the Cost of the Hotel room not the fact that you attended the Conference. rolivan
  • Score: 1

9:52pm Sat 2 Aug 14

kmhove says...

So where did Jason Kitkat stay and why isn't he(or any of the others) being criticised for going ? Seems to ma a typical "bash the tories" rant rather than any real issue.
So where did Jason Kitkat stay and why isn't he(or any of the others) being criticised for going ? Seems to ma a typical "bash the tories" rant rather than any real issue. kmhove
  • Score: 23

10:10pm Sat 2 Aug 14

Martha Gunn says...

Is it true that Mark Turner holds the world record for hanging on to the same Trades Union job for the longest time?

If so how much has he cost the council-tax payer during his distinguished tenure?
Is it true that Mark Turner holds the world record for hanging on to the same Trades Union job for the longest time? If so how much has he cost the council-tax payer during his distinguished tenure? Martha Gunn
  • Score: 19

10:45pm Sat 2 Aug 14

FatherTed11 says...

Nearly a whole week without an Argus 'slammed' article! I was getting worrried.
Nearly a whole week without an Argus 'slammed' article! I was getting worrried. FatherTed11
  • Score: 5

9:01am Sun 3 Aug 14

Quiterie says...

Andy R wrote:
Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?
Immaculate timing as ever Andy! Bizarre comment following a story about Theobald paying about half the cost of his hotel room out of his own pocket whilst on Council business - well done Theobald.

And is the best you can come back with really an obscure election statistic from 3 years ago, and a story from 6 years ago that was only barely significant then.

Who does your PR then Andy? Chemical Ali?
[quote][p][bold]Andy R[/bold] wrote: Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?[/p][/quote]Immaculate timing as ever Andy! Bizarre comment following a story about Theobald paying about half the cost of his hotel room out of his own pocket whilst on Council business - well done Theobald. And is the best you can come back with really an obscure election statistic from 3 years ago, and a story from 6 years ago that was only barely significant then. Who does your PR then Andy? Chemical Ali? Quiterie
  • Score: 7

9:10am Sun 3 Aug 14

Nikski says...

Tory in hypocrisy shock! Surely not, what a revelation....who'd have thought it?
Tory in hypocrisy shock! Surely not, what a revelation....who'd have thought it? Nikski
  • Score: 0

10:10am Sun 3 Aug 14

NickBrt says...

Kmhove asked where Jason stayed. He was at a traveller encampment on the beach.
Kmhove asked where Jason stayed. He was at a traveller encampment on the beach. NickBrt
  • Score: 0

10:54am Sun 3 Aug 14

Phani Tikkala says...

Andy R wrote:
Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?
That's a bit rich from someone who works for the Council.

Oh well, I can't wait for the FOI results about who is who posting from Council offices during Council time….
[quote][p][bold]Andy R[/bold] wrote: Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?[/p][/quote]That's a bit rich from someone who works for the Council. Oh well, I can't wait for the FOI results about who is who posting from Council offices during Council time…. Phani Tikkala
  • Score: 1

11:08am Sun 3 Aug 14

Peppers I says...

NickBrt wrote:
Kmhove asked where Jason stayed. He was at a traveller encampment on the beach.
Shoooosh. Don't you know you are not allowed to comment on the travellers .
[quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: Kmhove asked where Jason stayed. He was at a traveller encampment on the beach.[/p][/quote]Shoooosh. Don't you know you are not allowed to comment on the travellers . Peppers I
  • Score: 3

11:45am Sun 3 Aug 14

Nikski says...

Phani Tikkala wrote:
Andy R wrote:
Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?
That's a bit rich from someone who works for the Council.

Oh well, I can't wait for the FOI results about who is who posting from Council offices during Council time….
Er, note the time and date of Andy R's post: 7.18pm Sat 2nd Aug. Unlikely to be in a Council office at that time....
It's the small details eh Phani Tikkala (most amusing name too how clever you are to think of that)
[quote][p][bold]Phani Tikkala[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andy R[/bold] wrote: Oh dear Geoffrey....it just gets worse for you doesn't it? What with the fact that your "authority" as a councillor rests on just 19% of the electorate of Patcham. Then there's your apparent belief that the DISABLED parking bays in Kings House are just there to accommodate your very large Jag. Who's doing your PR these days?[/p][/quote]That's a bit rich from someone who works for the Council. Oh well, I can't wait for the FOI results about who is who posting from Council offices during Council time….[/p][/quote]Er, note the time and date of Andy R's post: 7.18pm Sat 2nd Aug. Unlikely to be in a Council office at that time.... It's the small details eh Phani Tikkala (most amusing name too how clever you are to think of that) Nikski
  • Score: 0

3:46pm Sun 3 Aug 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Did he get the train or claim 45 pence a mile petrol allowance and parking to us as well?
Did he get the train or claim 45 pence a mile petrol allowance and parking to us as well? Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: -1

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