Euro trips bill tops £16,000

PUBLISHED: 16:54 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:48 16 August 2010

COUNCIL bosses have spent more than £16,000 on extravagant foreign trips in one year, including stays in four-star hotels.

COUNCIL bosses have spent more than £16,000 on "extravagant" foreign trips in one year, including stays in four-star hotels.

Bromley council spent £16,326.70 on foreign travel, accommodation and subsistence last year (08-09), according to a Freedom of Information request by the Times.

The figures reveal that taxpayers shelled out £1,000 to send two officers on a study tour to Holland to examine cycle provision and training, in May 22 last year.

Economy flights for the two-night trip were £100 each, with one standard evening meal allowance of £10.48 and one standard lunch allowance of £8.46 each.

Other fact-finding trips included travel and accommodation to the USA, Brussels and Prague.

But pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) claims that most of these fact-finding trips can be done for free online.

TPA chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "It's shocking that so many council staff have been on jollies at a time when taxpayers are fighting to make ends meet. These trips are extravagant, inappropriate and in many cases wholly unnecessary. Wherever possible, fact-finding should be done electronically, for free."

In June last year tax payers also paid for four officers to go to Brussels to collect an award. They stayed a night at the four-star Husa International Hotel and travelled economy on Eurostar.

Bosses at the transportation planning division sent two officers to a freight transport conference in Prague at a cost of £851, including a two-night stay at the four-star Hotel Jalta totalling £402.

Seven people were sent to Groningen in Holland for three days in October last year to investigate "shared price" schemes in town centres, at a cost of £6,000. Easyjet flights for the four officers, two councillors and a consultant cost £668. Accommodation was £1,016, seven-seat car rental £450 and meal and parking charges came to £440.

The mayor spent £611.10 visiting the twinned town of Neuwied in Germany in April last year for an official event.

The bulk of the money, £6,714.60, was for trips by the London European Partnership for Transport (LEPT), which aims to promote sustainable transport, for which Bromley was the lead authority until April 1 this year.

Until April, LEPT staff were technically Bromley employees but carried out duties on behalf of all London boroughs. Eighteen visits included trips to Catania in Sicily, Dublin, Barcelona, Bucharest, Warsaw, Bologna, Madrid and Maribor in Slovenia.

A total of £3,542.10 was spent on travel and £3,172.50 on accommodation and subsistence.

A spokesperson for Bromley council said: "The council has officer and councillor guidance in place regarding overseas business trips and closely monitors all its spending. We were recently awarded a top rating of four stars for use of resources by the Audit Commission.

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