A ROW has broken out over the minutes of a meeting which appear to show councillors voting for themselves to have a celebratory meal at tax-payers' expense.

The mayor of Thornaby has said the minutes of the November 7 meeting do not accurately reflect the debate, and there was no question of parish councillors using the mayoral fund for a night out.

However Thornaby Labour Party has picked up on the minutes, which apparently show rival Thornaby Independent Association councillors agreeing to the meal.

Mayor Ian Dalgarno said the idea was actually to have a civic reception once Thornaby Town Hall has been refurbished. A separate fund will be established to pay for the reception, he said.

The minutes detail Thornaby Council’s success in taking over the ownership of the freehold of the town’s 121-year-old, grade II-listed town hall after years of legal wrangling.

The minutes then say: “Councillor Dalgarno proposed that members mark the occasion by going out for a celebratory meal to be paid out of the mayoral fund.

"The clerk advised members that this is not what the mayoral fund is to be used for. After a debate took place the proposal was seconded by councillor Tina Large. A vote was taken with all members in agreement to accept the proposal.”

Former borough councillor Terry Murphy, who hopes to be considered as Labour’s candidate for Stockton South parliamentary constituency in the next general election, said: “This is an insult to the residents of Thornaby. It’s not what the mayor’s fund is for, which is supposed to be for small charity and community projects.

"What Ian Dalgarno is saying now is miles from what is in the minutes, not just slightly. The minutes are only a page long.”

However Coun Dalgarno argued the Labour Party were playing politics ahead of a Stockton Borough Council by-election on Thursday, February 7.

He said: “The minutes don't reflect the debate that took place. They missed the point that we were talking about something that's going to happen in 18 months to two years' time.  In fact we’ll have a separate budget. There’s only £140 in the mayoral fund anyway.

“The idea that just us councillors are going to go down the pub and have a meal with this money is just wrong. 

“I would point out that none of us on Thornaby Town Council claim any expenses.”

Coun Dalgarno accepted he had signed the minutes off. He said: "That's my responsibility and I clearly didn't read them closely enough."