Enfield’s Conservative leader has slammed the council for holding a staff awards ceremony at an upmarket hotel.

Tory leader Cllr Joanne Laban claimed holding the Long Service Awards dinner at West Lodge Park Hotel – which bills itself as ‘one of the finest country house hotels in Hertfordshire’ – amounted to “fine dining on the taxpayer”.

She said the event should have been held at a council-owned building such as the Dugdale Centre.

But council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan defended the decision to hold the ceremony at the hotel and accused the Tory leader of having a “Scrooge-like attitude”.

The Long Service Awards dinner – held to mark 25 years of service with the council – took place at four-star West Lodge Park, in Hadley Wood, in mid-November.

Cllr Laban – who is also the Tories’ parliamentary candidate for Enfield North – said the event had previously been held at The Dugdale Centre and it was “totally outrageous” to “upscale” it to a hotel.

The Conservative leader said: “I am completely supportive of honouring Enfield Council staff who have worked for the organisation for 25 years. It is a mark of respect and appreciation for their commitment to the London Borough of Enfield.

“However, I am aghast that at the same time that the Labour council decides to slap a £65 charge on residents for garden waste collection it is fine dining on the taxpayer at West Lodge Park Hotel.

“It is totally outrageous that the council pleads poverty but chooses to spend public money in this way. Clearly, the Labour Council does not feel that Forty Hall, Gentleman’s Row, the Dugdale Centre or Millfield Theatre are good enough for them.”

But council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan accused Cllr Laban of demonstrating a “mean-spirited, Scrooge-like attitude”.

She added: “Cllr Laban should condemn the Conservative government for cutting the council’s £2.5 million grant for bin collections, not target our hard-working council staff”.

“The annual staff awards recognise members of staff who between them have given hundreds of years to Enfield.

“Council staff deliver front-line services like keeping our streets clean, supporting those who find themselves homeless, and looking after our most vulnerable children and elderly. For Cllr Laban to suggest a meal is too good for these officers is shameful.”

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “It is important that Enfield Council recognises the enormous contribution its long-serving members of staff make to improving the borough and increasing the quality of life of its residents through their hard work, dedication and commitment.

“Demonstrating our staff are valued and respected is good business practice as having a happy, motivated and settled workforce both improves the quality of service and reduces staff turnover and associated recruitment costs.”