Council cuts overseas trips costs

THE amount of money spent by Suffolk county councillors taking trips abroad has reduced, an EADT investigation has found.

THE amount of money spent by Suffolk county councillors taking trips abroad has reduced, an EADT investigation has found.

Figures obtained following a Freedom of Information request show that in 2004/05 £3,116.97 was spent on councillors taking trips overseas. But that figure had been reduced to just £376.57 for 2007/08.

Jane Storey, deputy leader of the Conservative-run administration at Suffolk County Council, which took over from the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2005, said the Conservative group was mindful of the Suffolk taxpayer.

She claimed: “We inherited a situation were there was lots of councillors going off and doing lots of foreign visits but we do not think that we need to.

“We do look at examples of best practice in other countries but we do not see that that is something councillors have to do as well as officers.”

Julian Swainson, leader of the Labour opposition at Suffolk County Council, said that potential funding for the county could be lost if councillors were not travelling overseas.

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“There are benefits in going to a number of meetings in different places - whether that is in the UK or to our near neighbours and the benefits are often very tangible.

“Lots of work that we have done with our Dutch and Danish partners has brought in considerable funding to us.”

He added: “I think the council tax payer would want a competent administration that brings in lots of money for the schemes that are useful to residents, they probably do not want a £220,000 a year chief executive.”

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