Giant cuddly toys among gifts presented to Liverpool councillors

A giant panda teddy bear and a cuddly polar bear are among the thousands of pounds worth of gifts accepted by members of Liverpool Council in the last year.

As part of its code of conduct, the local authority requires elected officials to declare any gift of hospitality they may have been offered of at least £50 in value within 28 days of receipt.

In the period between October 2023 and this May, more than three dozen offers were made to the tune of more than £5,000.

Among them were cuddly toys offered to the leader of the council and the former Lord Mayor from a Chinese delegation.

Any significant gift put forward to councillors that is rejected is also required to be registered with the city’s monitoring officer. Documents released ahead of the council’s standard and ethics committee meeting at Liverpool Town Hall have outlined the offers made and accepted in the last eight months.

They include a £50 bundle including a New Year card, gift boxes and a giant panda teddy bear accepted by council leader Liam Robinson from the ministry of foreign affairs of the People’s Republic of China. A £15 calendar and cuddly polar bear from the Chinese consulate was also accepted by former Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Rasmussen in February.

A report to councillors ahead of the meeting said, “Reporting on the registration of gifts and hospitality supports transparency of process, protects the position of councillors and the reputation of the council. Combined with training and awareness sessions on the requirements of the code, this helps to ensure councillors are aware of and comply with expected standards of conduct in public office.”

Two gifts were also given to Cllrs Robinson and Rasmussen by Liverpool Football Club, giving the city leader a £50 bottle of Brut champagne in a gift box and a bottle of champagne to the former Lord Mayor to the value of £25.

A series of offers were turned down by members including a £75 ticket and drinks reception for You Festival 2024 at M&S Arena hosted by Robbie Williams, received by Cllr Robinson.

The report said the logging of rejected offers ensures “that councillors are transparent in the receipt of gifts and hospitality and that the council upholds high standards of conduct and embeds strong ethical governance”.

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