By Jon Cronshaw
Bottled water and water for coolers has cost Leeds City Council about £200,000 in the last five years.
The information were released to Leeds Northern through a Freedom of Information request asking how much had been spent over the past five years on bottled water.
The figures revealed spending was £76,600 in 2008/09; £31,200 in 2009/10; £41,900 in 2010/11; £21,600 in 2011/12 and £27,900 in 2012/13.
The numbers provided include schools and other council premises, and a statement from Leeds City Council said the numbers also covered providing water coolers.
The statement said: “Providing good quality drinking water for staff, pupils and visitors to our buildings and schools is not a perk – it is a very basic requirement of any decent and responsible organisation, and we do not intend to change this. However, we are also keen to provide value for council taxpayers’ money.
“We have significantly reduced our spend on bottled water since 2009 when we introduced better value plumbed-in water coolers in the majority of our buildings.
“The bulk of this expenditure will have been for water in water coolers in offices and public areas, and providing drinking water for schools, rather than individual bottles of mineral water.
“To put it into perspective we have 32,000 members of staff across the council, ALMOs and schools and over 111,000 pupils, as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors to our buildings each year.”
But Matt Thompson, a representative from Yorkshire Water, said: “Yorkshire Water produces some of the best quality drinking water anywhere in the world. We don’t see why anyone should be drinking bottled water in Yorkshire – nobody should be wasting money on bottled water when they can consume our water at a fraction of the cost. We would say to Leeds City Council, don’t do it – don’t waste your money.”
Leeds City Council has an annual budget of £2bn.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The council can’t afford to pour money down the drain buying costly bottled water. Many work places and families keep their bills down by cutting out overpriced bottled and cooler water so there’s no reason Leeds City Council can’t do the same. If the council stops splashing out on this expensive form of hydration it could save taxpayers a fortune without affecting front line services.”