WIRRAL council has come under fire once more for its spending habits after it was revealed council bosses jetted off to a conference in Bournemouth at a cost of £5,000.
Three councillors and two senior officers travelled to the south coast for the Local Government Association (LGA) conference.
The cash-strapped authority, which has been criticised for recently for spending £17,000 on refurbishing members toilets in Wallasey town hall – spent £5,258.72 on flying four of the five to Bournemouth
Visiting the conference was council chief executive Graham Burgess, council leader Phil Davies, deputy leader George Davies, Liberal Democrat Alan Brighouse and the council’s strategic director Joe Blott.
The council said the flights cost £139.18 for three of them and £124.18 for the fourth – cheaper than the standard train rate of £169 return.
The fifth member of the delegation travelled to Bournemouth by train using a pensioner’s discount.
Graham Burgess has defended the spending, insisting it allowed them to “showcase Wirral’s achievements and good practice” on a national platform.
Wallasey Conservative Cllr Paul Hayes has slammed the decision to travel to Bournemouth – which also included a £495 conference fee per delegate and hotel accommodation.
He said: “This is a council which continues to blame the Government for having to make cuts to services and staff yet it finds the funds to pay for labour councillors to jet off to a conference at the seaside.
“What does this say about the priorities of this council? Especially at a time when veteran's services are being cut, the Lyndale School is threatened with closure and there is the threat of forced redundancies for hard working staff."
Mr Burgess said: “The LGA Conference brings together people involved in local government from all over the country and from all political parties. The vast majority of local authorities – including those from all of the other Councils that make up the Liverpool City Region – are represented here.
“The conference programme is always of direct relevance to what is happening in local government, gives us an opportunity to hear and respond to latest government policy and also gives us an opportunity to showcase Wirral’s achievements and good practice on this national platform. We have kept both our attendance and resulting costs to a minimum.”