Council facing bankruptcy 'spent £50K on coronation celebrations'

Conservative-run Bromley council, which spent £50,000 on the coronation, refused to fund "warm banks" during winter

Photo by: KGC-09/330/STAR MAX/IPx 2023 5/6/23 The Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey. After the ceremony at the abbey, King Charles III with Queen Camilla and other members of the senior royal family, appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Here, King Charles and Queen Camilla
Councils spent tens of thousands celebrating the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. (AP)

A number of councils that vetoed the expansion of cost of living support such as food banks and made cuts to public services spent tens of thousands of pounds on coronation celebrations over the weekend - despite polls showing most Brits were not interested in the ceremony.

Conservative-run Bromley council, which spent £50,000 on the coronation, refused to fund so-called "warm banks" during the winter, saying the £2,500 cost per centre "isn’t a good use" of money.

According to Open Democracy, the council said it would be taking the money to fund the coronation celebrations from its community fund, which is traditionally used to give grants to charities.

And in December, the council claimed it was so cash-strapped, it had to sell off key buildings to avoid bankruptcy.

Read more: The local councils that spent the most money on the King’s Coronation

Among those buildings proposed for sale was Community House Bromley, which plays host to charity groups in the area.

According to LondonNewsOnline, Council leader, Cllr Colin Smith, said at a 12 December meeting: “This council is scheduled to go bankrupt in four to five years’ time unless we make hard decisions, and hard decisions involve selling buildings when we don’t necessarily want to… It involves making very very tough financial choices."

The Labour opposition leader, Simon Jeal, told openDemocracy that he doesn't oppose coronation spending but, “it’s odd the Conservatives don’t fund celebrations for any other sorts of events”.

Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council told Yahoo News UK: "If Bromley Labour Party wish to be the Grinches who tried to sully the Coronation in Bromley more shame on them.

“I am very clear that a significant majority of Bromley residents want to see and enjoy taking part in one off pageants of history like the Coronation and make no apology whatsoever for spending a relatively small, hopefully only ever once in a generation, sum to help them mark such a special day.”

Crowds gather to watch the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in London, Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Richard Heathcote, Pool via AP)
Crowds gather to watch the coronation in London. (AP)
Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace after the coronation ceremony for Britain's King Charles III in London, Saturday, May 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace after the coronation ceremony. (AP)

Read more: Who are the lesser-known royals in King Charles's official coronation portrait?

The local council that spent the most was Ealing, which paid out £182, 268.85 according to Open Democracy, despite the Labour-led council in December pledging to make £2m of cuts to public services including adult social care and public health.

In October last year, the council predicted an overspend of £14.794 million for the financial year, amid rising inflation and pressures on health and social care.

Barking and Dagenham council, meanwhile, spent £155,000 on the coronation, despite placing as the fifth most deprived local authority in the UK.

The deputy leader of Labour-run Barking and Dagenham Council previously commented that the area was struggling financially

“We’ve already delivered more than £175m in savings since 2010 and there’s a further £5.689m planned this year – we’re reaching the point where there’s nothing left to cut,” The Independent reported Dominic Twomey saying in March.

Other local council big spenders on coronation weekend were Newham, which is one of the most deprived boroughs in London and spent £168,659.36, and Richmond upon Thames, which spent £150,000.

In April, a poll for YouGov showed most British people were not interested in the King’s coronation with 35% saying they “do not care very much”, and 29% saying they “do not care at all”.

Some 24% of people said they care “a fair amount”, while only 9% said they care “a great deal”.

Apathy was particularly high among younger age groups, with 75% of people aged between 18 and 24 saying they do not care “very much” or “at all” about the event, and 69% of those aged between 25 and 49 saying the same.