Don’t panic, it’s not West Lancashire
but it might well be, as reasons to send council employees and the odd councillor on foreign jaunts, or jollies, become persuasive for councils that are short of cash.
spent £17,639 sending staff on ‘jollies’ to the south of France. The Taxpayers Alliance tells us that despite many councils claiming their coffers are empty they still manage to find money for these ridiculous perks.
The council says the trips to the world’s biggest property event in France bring ‘big benefits’ to Wolverhampton’s economy. They sent five officers and a councillor to Cannes. The spending relates to the tax years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, and was used to fund two separate trips to attend the MIPIM, the world’s biggest property exhibition, in the picturesque city on the French Riviera. One trip saw three officers and a councillor spend £9,999.16 on accommodation and expenses, and another where two officers spent £5,440.
These figures dwarf the cost of travel, which was £2,200 and £1,100 for the respective trips. Separately, the EU funded 18 individual foreign trips for council officers to a variety of locations, including Gen Y City workshops in Kristiansand, Bologna, Nantes and Poznan, a trip to Brussels for the International Urban Cooperation workshop and a further trip to Italy as part of the Erasmus scheme.
The total value of these trips was £10,154. The council has also revealed the EU covered the cost of a lavish trip for three officers and three councillors to Shimla, India. However, no details of costs were provided by the council. There was also an all-expenses paid trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for one lucky officer, paid for, the council says, by their hosts in the UAE.
Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance
said “Wolverhampton ratepayers will be annoyed by these revelations. Councillors and officials have been splashing taxpayer cash on foreign junkets at the same time as rates have soared. The council must have been aiming for an acting award at the Cannes Festival, given it claimed to have massive funding shortages yet managed to pay for councillors and officers to enjoy jollies on the Mediterranean coast. The council must prioritise keeping rates at reasonable levels and funding frontline services” he added.
Cllr Louise Miles (Lab. Oxley), the council’s cabinet member for resources, said “We keep foreign trips to a minimum and wherever possible costs are paid for by the hosts as is demonstrated in the cases highlighted here. The council does send a small delegation alongside our Midlands partners to MIPIM, the world’s leading property event, in France each year which has brought big benefits to the city in terms of attracting jobs and investment.
“MIPIM provides a global platform to sell what the city of Wolverhampton has to offer as part of the Midlands UK delegation. Multi-billion-pound regeneration is changing the face of our city and creating a wealth of attractive opportunities for developers and investors. Court Collaboration on our exciting Brewers Yard city living scheme is an example of a major partner we met at MIPIM”.
It couldn’t happen with West Lancashire, could it?