Grease and safer sex – all covered by council cards

Payments include more than �1,000 for the theatrical rights to the musical Grease.
Payments include more than �1,000 for the theatrical rights to the musical Grease.
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COUNCILS spent nearly £150 million on credit cards in the last five years, new figures have revealed.

Payments range from hotel stays to skateboards, and include more than £1,000 for the theatrical rights to the musical Grease.

A machine to repel dangerous dogs was also among the items bought on council credit cards, according to figures obtained by the Conservative Party.

Half of Scotland’s councils did not detail exactly what the cash was spent on.

Aberdeenshire Council spent £1,100 for the rights to show Grease and £500 on a “safer sex box” while Argyll and Bute spent £700 in restaurant Planet Hollywood.

Other examples from the past two years include East Ayrshire spending £100 on a Santa suit, £500 on skateboards, £30 on a “dog dazer”, £400 on glowstick necklaces and a similar amount on two deluxe hairdryers.

Also included in the breakdown was East Lothian Council spending £900 at Walt Disney Theatrical in London and Moray Council spending £2,000 on theatre tickets.

Shetland spent hundreds on “clothing allowances” while West Dunbartonshire revealed it had hundreds of pounds that were “unexplained”.

Fife Council’s transactions showed thousands of pounds worth of unidentified cash withdrawals from high street banks.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “We are supposed to be living in an age of transparency and it’s deeply worrying that so many councils have spent vast sums of public money but have no idea how it was used.

“The vast majority of local authority workers are trustworthy when it comes to council credit card use, but there will always be a handful who like to push the boundaries.”

David O’Neill, president of council umbrella body Cosla, said: “I do not see the point the Conservatives are trying to make here about the use of credit cards.

“Obviously, decisions on spend and budget decisions are a matter for individual local authorities.

“However, what I can say about the use of credit cards is that there is nothing wrong with the use of them as a vehicle for making approved and appropriate purchases.”

A statement from Moray Council said: “The press statement by Scottish Conservatives press office is to be viewed with some caution. Moray Council used a purchase card to buy theatre tickets for a school trip. Parents then reimburse the council for the cost.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “An Aberdeenshire school purchased theatrical rights to stage a performance of the musical, Grease. The show covered this cost in ticket sales during its three-night run.”