OFFICERS working for West Berkshire Council (WBC) received gifts and hospitality last year worth over £500.

Several companies with contracts with the council offered gifts to officers, including two rugby tickets worth £300.

WBC’s constitution states: “The acceptance of gifts and hospitality is a sensitive area where actions can easily be misconstrued.

“Acceptance of gifts or hospitality should be the exception. If any doubt, they should be refused.”

Balfour Beatty, a construction company, paid £100 for the transport projects manager to attend an industry awards ceremony. The company has previously worked on several infrastructure contracts in West Berkshire, worth millions of pounds.

Matchtech, an engineering recruitment company, offered tickets worth £300 to chief engineers in the traffic and road team, to attend a rugby match at Twickenham to see Harlequins play Bath. The tickets weren’t accepted.

Councillor Jeff Brooks said: “Days out at Twickenham rugby are not cheap and do not look good.”

Volker Highways, a road maintenance company, spent £48 on a bottle of gin, chocolates, and lunch for the highways contract and claims officer. The company has a seven-year contract with WBC worth £10 million per year.

Veolia, who operate rubbish lorries, spent £150 on taking four members of the waste team out for lunch. The company has a 25-year contract with West Berkshire Council.

The council’s constitution states: “Officers must report any offer of hospitality made to them”. However, WBC’s head solicitor questioned whether this consistently happens in practice.

Sarah Clarke, head of legal services, said: “Is there room for improvement? I think there probably is. Is everything raised consistently? I’m not sure. We still need to raise awareness, it’s an ongoing piece of work.”

Lansley Estate Agents spent £72 on six bottles of prosecco to give to the adult social care department.

BTU, the council’s mechanical maintenance contractor, spent £60 on wine, whiskey and cognac, to give to two officers in the finance and property team.

Document Despatch, a printing and mailing company, spent £20 on two bottles of wine and two boxes of chocolate for the revenue and benefits manager.

S&J Building Services, a company that installs disabled bathrooms, spent £60 on six trays of Ferrero Rocher chocolates to give to the housing grants and loans supervisor.

Gardner and Leader solicitors spent £12 on wine for land charges officers, and PSG, a conveyancing company, also spent £16 on prosecco for the same officers.

A council spokeswoman said: “WBC is committed to being open and transparent about the gifts and hospitality accepted by staff. Officers should only accept and declare small token gifts.

“No information is held on undeclared gifts or hospitality. However, the gifts and hospitality procedure is clear, and failure to declare could lead to disciplinary action.”

PSG’s Basingstoke office said it ‘did not give gifts of prosecco’ to land charges officers. The other aforementioned companies were approached for comment.