A newly elected Sunderland councillor has said she is “appalled” to be offered free Empire Theatre tickets and wants freebies for councillors scrapped.
Heather Fagan was elected as Liberal Democrat councillor for Doxford and Tunstall on 2nd May, taking the seat from incumbent Labour councillor Colin English.
Along with all 75 councillors, Heather was e-mailed just days after the local elections by Sunderland City Council staff asking if she wanted free tickets to the Club Tropicana 80s musical which is showing at the city’s Empire Theatre from 20th – 25th May.
The tickets are strictly non-transferrable, meaning they can’t be given by councillors to charities, community groups or raffled off for good causes in their areas.
Prior to her election Councillor Fagan had campaigned for free hospitality for councillors at the Sunderland Airshow to be scrapped, forcing a change of policy in July 2018 when the Council said councillors would now have to pay for food and drink at a VIP tent at the annual event.
Now she has set her sights on ending theatre ticket perks for city councillors too.
Liberal Democrat councillor for Doxford and Tunstall Heather Fagan commented:
"I stood for election as councillor so that I could get things done for my area and to campaign to improve our city – not to get my hands on perks like free theatre tickets. The fact that freebies are still being dished out sends out a terrible signal to residents that their councillors are out for as many perks as they can get.
“It is as shocking as it is shameful that elected politicians in Sunderland seem to be offered these freebies as a matter of course. To add insult to injury, you are prevented from giving the tickets away to raise money of a charity or to give to local community and voluntary groups as a thank you. These groups are far more deserving of free theatre tickets. It is absolutely absurd.
“Wearside Liberal Democrats refuse to take the free tickets and we will keep campaigning for them to be stopped. We have managed to scrap VIP hospitality at the airshow for councillors and the free buffet meals after meetings. These other perks like free theatre tickets must be the next to be axed.”