AN ANGRY spat over the council’s alleged £50k spend on ‘dying’ plants and who waters them ensued at a fiery meeting.

Government-appointed commissioners, who have been sent in to help with the authority’s recovery, have warned the council’s gargantuan £760m borrowing debt and £479pm deficit paint a “very stark picture” where bosses will have to make tough decisions and cuts ahead as well as sell almost all of the town’s assets.

Councillors debated its improvement and recovery strategy, which outlines how it will dig out of its mess, at the annual full council meeting on Thursday, May 19.

However, the breaking point seemed to be on an alleged huge spend on plants at the council’s £41m HQ Observatory House where a war of words ensued between members.

READ MORE: Slough Council will "almost certainly" move out of HQ

Independent councillor Madhuri Bedi (Foxborough) claimed the council spent £50,000 on plants as a “vanity project” and asked what will happen to them if members decide to move out of its current HQ.

Speaking after the meeting, a council spokesperson denied the local authority spent £50,000 and had “no idea” where that figure came from.

Royal Borough Observer: Council's spend on plants for their HQ was dubbed a "vanity project"Council's spend on plants for their HQ was dubbed a "vanity project"

However, they were unsure what the actual figure was as the cost was part of the overall decoration budget for the HQ when the council moved in nearly five years ago.

Meanwhile, council leader James Swindlehurst (Lab: Cippenham Green) said the plants will be cared for whatever decision they make on Observatory House.

He also said he, staff, volunteers, and other councillors come in and water the plants out of their own time free of charge after a £20,000 contract was terminated in September with a company that watered the plants on the council’s behalf.

READ MORE: Slough Labour accused of 'hiding in shadows' amid money crisis

But Cllr Wayne Strutton (Con: Haymill & Lynch Hill) accused the leader of being “misleading”.

He said: “We have to worry about how much time the leadership team is using and wasting on watering the plants because he’s [Cllr Swindlehurst] already said how much time he’s dedicating to that.

“He said all the plants are alive. If you walk around the building, the plants are dying and the spaces are empty. Let’s be honest with the truth and not mislead people.”

Royal Borough Observer: The council leader he, staff, volunteers, and other councillors water the plants nearly every weekThe council leader he, staff, volunteers, and other councillors water the plants nearly every week

Royal Borough Observer:

Cllr Swindlehurst interrupted and wrongly called Cllr Strutton the leader of the opposition, saying: “Does the leader of the opposition dictate what I do with my free time? I wasn’t aware he had any role to play in that.”

“Thanks for the promotion,” Cllr Strutton replied. The mayor, Cllr Dilbagh S. Parmar (Lab: Cippenham Meadows) managed to get the meeting back on track.

The council spokesperson denied the 200 plants are dead or dying, adding they are healthy and are being looked after.

“One brown leaf does not make a dead plant,” they said.