New figures recently discovered by Sutton Conservatives puts the cost of the Liberal Democrat straw café pet-project in Manor Park at an eye-watering £196,000.

The initial cost agreed by the Liberal Democrat-led Sutton Council in September 2009 was £116,000 but by 18th March 2010, the cost had risen by almost 70%.

Liberal Democrat council papers boast that the straw café is expected to generate a rental income to the council of £6,000 per annum. It would take nearly 33 years with full time tenancy to reimburse the council’s coffers with the amount spent on the café.

Lack of affordable housing is a key issue in the London Borough of Sutton. If the £196,000 sum wasn’t spent on the straw café, Sutton Council would be able to use that money to build four new properties from scratch thereby alleviating the pressures of the housing waiting list.

Hot on the heels of the Sutton Life Cente, it’s unforgiveable to waste almost £200,000 of taxpayer’s cash in this current economic climate on building a café made from bales of straw. With the chronic shortage of housing in the borough, it is inconceivable that such a large sum of money is being wasted in this way. £200,000 would pay to take four families desperately in need of permanent accommodation off the waiting list and into new purpose built affordable housing units.

Sutton’s Liberal Democrats have made their choice, its own pet projects before people. The controversial Sutton Life Centre was reported last week to be making a loss before it has even opened. This straw café is also destined for that list of failed projects. It is high time they understood that taxpayer’s money isn’t their plaything; the council are privileged to be the custodian of resident’s hard earned cash and with that privilege comes the responsibility to manage funds properly and offer real value for money. This is another sign of a tired administration taking residents for granted and forgetting why they sought election in the first place. In another introspective project, we are told that Sutton is to be a ‘One Planet Borough’ by 2025. I’m hoping we’ll acheive something similar after the local elections on 6th May, when a Conservative Council returns to live on the same planet as Sutton’s residents.