The Northern Quota

News Live from Manchester

'Shameless' Manchester council spends £50,000 on designer chairs for library whilst hundreds sleep on streets

  • Liberal Democrat councillor John Leech blasts Council's "ability to find pockets of money for vanity projects" in time of austerity

Town hall bosses at Manchester Council have splashed out on 140 chairs costing more than an estimated £50,000 as part of the recent transformation of the new Central Library in St Peter’s Square.

The Labour-run council have come under fire for the staggering amount spent on designer furniture from campaign groups, and even its own councillors.

Sole opposition councillor, John Leech said: “For a council that claims poverty and blames Government cuts every single time I suggest taking on vulnerable children at risk of death, abuse and trafficking from Syria, or tackling the homeless crisis in Manchester, their ability to find pockets of money for vanity projects is utterly incredible, and absolutely shameless.

“Whilst we can sit back in plush chairs, literally, there are men, women and children living on our streets. When will this council get its priorities straight?”

John Leech
Counicllor John Leech

Campaign group The Friends of Manchester Central Library said the council were concentrating on appearance at the expense of the public services.

During the four-year transformation of Central Library, the public computer suites were decked out with the following luxury chairs:

The total cost of the above 118 chairs is an impressive £42,922, averaging £363 each.

Library chairs
The Vitra chairs which cost at least £387 each

But the council also forked out an estimated £10,000 just on 22 additional chairs:

Library chairs
The Vitra AC4 office chairs

The town hall said they could not provide the exact cost as it would take too long to search their accounts. However, the items can be found online for between £400 and £1,000 each, and a conservative calculation brings the estimated grand total to more than £50,000.

This is not the first time John Leech has hit out at the council's priorities. Earlier this year he slammed decisions to increase top bosses' salaries by a staggering 60% and criticised a rush-through plan to spend £2.4 million on new smaller bins - he instead suggested swapping with the already smaller recycling bins.

The councillor added: "Investing in our city's leisure and culture is vital but this level of extravagance at a time when money is tight really is unnecessary."

A spokesperson for campaign group The Friends of Manchester Central Library, said: “This kind of expenditure is indicative of a broader strategy in the way Manchester Central Library has been run over the past decade, with a concentration on appearance at the expense of the public services which the institution was first."

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