Knives out over dinner hosted using drought funding

OUTRAGED Southern Downs residents have taken to social media to slam the council for using drought funding to host a dinner at the RSL.

The dinner for 100 business owners, bankers, accountants and their clients was held on Wednesday night.

Daily readers described the issue as "disgraceful", with several saying they were "appalled" by the council's actions.

Mary Rofe described it as "a poor decision".

"The culture of this council is complacent and inherently oblivious to the real values of the people they are supposed to represent," she said.

Sheryl Windle slammed the council and said she believed the money could have been put to better use.

"Using it for a dinner for those that obviously are not suffering economic hardship is not only morally wrong, but blatantly an insult to those in need," she said.

Cr Jamie Mackenzie added his support to the criticism, stating that the council "could have done better".

"Assistance could have been hampers, food vouchers, care kits with crisis contact information or just a relaxing sausage sizzle at a local hall," he said.

Not everyone was against the concept of the dinner.

Peter Kemp defended the event.

"It was money made available from the State Government specifically for this sort of event, it could not be used for any other purpose," he said.

Mayor Peter Blundell said he was disappointed to see the work of community development officers being undermined by "ill considered" and "misleading" remarks.

"It should be understood that the dinners hosted in Warwick and Stanthorpe inform bank managers, agents, and rural service providers, as well as producers, of signs to look for in those that need assistance, in who can provide that assistance, and how to get in touch with the providers," he said.

"These dinners are a small part of the very successful delivery of community resilience measures provided through $70,000 worth of State Government funding."

Projects such as the community car cards, ag expo, feast of flavours and mental health workshops were also organised under the funding.

Cr Blundell congratulated council staff for doing an exceptional job organising the events.

"These projects have been organised in full consultation with the State Department of Communities, and on the strength of the quality of their delivery, the community Services team has attracted $90,000 funding for similar programs for the 2016 year," he said.

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