THREE senior officers and the leader of Wirral Council are to travel to the Far East on a mission to help develop educational links between local young people and their counterparts in China.

Councillor Phil Davies, chief executive Graham Burgess, regeneration director Kevin Adderley and communications and tourism boss Emma Degg will make the long-haul trip at the end of August.

They will be accompanied by Contact Company chief executive Asif Hamid, who said he is “pleased to support Wirral Council in their work to attract investment and encourage international trade to the borough.”

But at a time of public sector austerity, not everyone is happy about the trip.

Moreton Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley said: “I have no objection to the council leader and a senior officer going to China, but I can’t see the value in sending another two council representatives when they’re forever screaming we have no money.

“How the council spends its cash is all about setting priorities, and I question whether this visit should be on that list.”

However, the local authority has been keen to nurture links with China since the launch of the multi-billion pound Wirral Waters and International Trade Centre regeneration project.

Several wealthy business leaders from the East have expressed their intention to invest in the major 20-year transformation scheme, based in derelict East Float Docks in Birkenhead.

Mr Adderley said: “Wirral Council is proud of the links we have developed over the last five years, the benefits of which we are starting to see.

“The International Trade Centre will deliver significant investment from a large number of companies and help kick-start Wirral Waters development.

“We are keen to ensure local young people are able to benefit from the future opportunities that will result.”

He continued: “A key theme of this latest visit will be to develop educational links between the young people of Wirral and young people in China.

“What is clear is that, despite the current economic climate, the future prosperity of Wirral will depend in part on securing overseas investment - and that is why we are continuing with this important initiative.”

Mr Hamid, whose Birkenhead-based call centre business employs around 500 staff, said: “I am pleased to support Wirral Council in their work to attract investment and encourage international trade to the borough.

“The return of the Open Championship to Wirral, the International Festival of Business in 2014 and the International Trade Centre at Wirral Waters will provide a great platform for the region to highlight our strengths to a global audience in the next few years.”

He said he believes it is essential for public and private sectors to work together to grow the local economy, especially in times when resources are scarce.

“China offers very real opportunities for Wirral companies to trade our way out of recession and into prosperity,” he said.

“Valuable links have been formed over the last five years with Chinese business and I am keen to see even more trade heading our way on the back of this visit.”

The authority said its representatives will be travelling economy class while Mr Hamid is covering all his own costs.