A Freedom of Information request by Wrexham.com asked Wrexham Council for details of attendees and costs of attendance for the last three years of Queen’s Garden Parties – with costs revealed to be over £1400.
This year Councillor Alan Edwards in his capacity of Mayor and Councillor Mark Pritchard represented the Wrexham Council at the event at Buckingham Palace.
The Royal Household describes the event as “…a way of rewarding and recognising public service. They are attended by people from all walks of life.”
Details are given of usual guests are described as “Approximately 8,000 guests attend each garden party. People from all walks of life are invited on the recommendation of a large number of national organisations who submit lists on a pre-arranged quota.
“Guests are generally people who have contributed a large amount to their various organisations or society.”
The catering overview is stated as: “Tea and other refreshments are served from long buffet tables. The quantities served are enormous.”
Mrs Edwards also attended this year as Mayoress, and Mrs Pritchard attended as the Councillors’ guests as their spouses.
Accommodation costs for this year totalled £417.00 with 2 doubles rooms and 1 single for the Chauffeur. Incidental costs were listed as £20.00 congestion charge and £45.20 parking fee.
This year the Council was allocated four places for the Royal Garden Party rather than the prior allocation of two. In addition the Council’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Paterson attended as a guest of the Lord Lieutenant, with travel and subsistence costs listed at £135.30.
Last year Councillor David Bithell, MBE, represented the Council due to his position of Mayor. Mrs Bithell, the then Mayoress, attended as Councillor Bithell’s guest.
Accommodation costs for 2013 was £319 (one double room and one single for the chauffeur), incidental costs were £20.00 congestion charge and a £25.00 parking fee.
In 2012 ex-councillor Mrs Gwyneth Roberts represented the Council as Mrs Gwyneth Roberts was due to attend as Mayor, but she was not re-elected in the Local Government elections. Wrexham Council explained this quirk as: “Places are non-transferable and names have to be submitted several months in advance.”
Mr Hadyn Roberts, her son, attended as her guest.
For 2012 accommodation costs were listed as £387, with three single rooms. Incidental costs were listed as £10.00 congestion charge and £25.00 parking fee.
Travel costs were not given for the three years, as attendees travelled together in the Civic car.
In the absence of the costings, Wrexham.com estimates the journey to be a 380 mile round trip, over three years totalling 1140 miles. Using current petrol costs it is possible this would cost in the region of £230, which is worth noting is much cheaper than an equivalent train ticket, however does not take into account the unknown costs of the Civic vehicle.
Wrexham.com asked for comment, ideally from Councillor Alan Edwards and/or Councillor Mark Pritchard and the Chief Executive, on how Wrexham as a town benefited from being represented at such an event, and invited a view on how the day itself went.
Council Leader, Councillor Neil Rogers offered comment, saying: “Wrexham, along with many other local authorities throughout the UK, were present at one of the Garden Parties held this year.
“Some members choose to go and some members choose not to go, however, on this occasion Wrexham was represented by Cllr Alan Edwards, The Mayor of Wrexham and Cllr Mark Pritchard, Deputy Leader.”