Those invited to the freebie included 4 Labour MPs, 9 Labour Councillors, a Labour peer, 20 University staff, and numerous Council and quango staff. The Leader of the Opposition was invited but declined to attend. The banquet took place a week before Labour agreed to cut services for older people. Earlier this year, with Lib Dem support, the City Council appointed the University's Art Gallery Director to run the City Council's Art Gallery too. This innovative cost-saving measure was widely welcomed as a sensible step, reflecting the nationwide recession. But Manchester Lib Dems believe most people will be sickened by yet another example of Labour's town hall extravagance.
Senior Manchester Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Shannon said:"Manchester Lib Dems fully support our excellent museums, galleries and the City's vibrant cultural life. But this is a gross error of judgement from Labour's leadership.""In these hard-pressed times, when every penny counts, it's incredible that Labour still haven't got the message. The Leader of the Council should know better. There is much deprivation in Manchester. It's wrong to spend public money wining and dining the cultural elite when ordinary people are suffering. "
"One day everyone else is to blame for cuts Sir Richard is implementing, and the next his snout is deep in the trough hosting this lavish banquet. Sir Richard has failed to lead by example. These are the actions of a hypocrite. Lib Dems want to see him working for growth, jobs and investment, not wasting public money on excessive hospitality."
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