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The South Downs National Park Authority has splashed out nearly £10,300 on refreshments in its first year of operation, it has been revealed.

Food has been provided for members and officers to sustain them during meetings.

A query from the Observer about costs since the park authority assumed its responsibilities on April 1, 2011, revealed how much was spent on food and drink for meetings at Capron House in Midhurst.

The Observer also asked a number of other questions about the authority’s expenditure. It had an initial budget of £11.3m for its first 12 months of operation.

It was not necessary to put in requests under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the answers: the information was made freely available by the park authority.

In reply to the question ‘how much did the SDNPA spend in its first year on refreshments for officers and members before, during and after meetings at Capron House’, a spokesman said:

“Staff pay for their own tea and coffee and it is SDNPA policy that a working lunch is supplied only where a meeting extends across lunchtime and where members of the authority and/or members of the public are present.

“The importance of partnership and engagement with stakeholders from right across the national park means there is no clear division between internal and external meetings since partners are frequently present at our meetings.

“We have, however, examined all of our expenditure in 2011/12 to produce an estimate of £10,281.39 spent on refreshments for meetings which are predominantly internal.”

* To view the full story see the May 24 issue of the Midhurst Observer.