An honesty box used by councillors to pay for tea and biscuits has had a lock slapped on it after claims cash was being pinched.
The kitty tin is located in the members’ lounge in Falkirk Municipal Buildings, where elected representatives can relax before and after debates in the adjacent chamber.
A long standing practice saw councillors pay for the price of a cup of tea or snack by leaving coins in the box and taking change if necessary.
But that came to an end after rumours began circulating that someone was pocketing cash and money was going missing.
Members were formerly able to enjoy complimentary tea and coffee before a political row about perks led to the freebie being scrapped.
A council insider said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful that this sort of thing could happen in the Muncipal Buildings.
“You used to put 50p in a jar but it looks like someone has been taking money from it, so they’ve had to replace it with a locked box.
“The sad thing is it throws suspicion on everyone that uses the room, both members and staff. It leads to a horrible atmosphere.
“But it’s being said the thief was almost caught red-handed.”
Many councillors were unaware of the problem until they arrived for meetings and found the lock on the money box. Some were reluctant to speak about the situation.
However, one councillor, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m not sure how the situation developed.
“One minute there was an open box, the next it was locked.
“It’s been suggested that takings have increased as a result of the move, but that could just be talk or it could be that people are drinking more coffee.”
The Falkirk Herald understands that only a small sum of money was involved and that no complaint has been made to the police over the issue.
A spokesman for Falkirk Council said: “We have replaced the honesty box with one that is now lockable after concerns that some money may have been removed.”