Pizzagate: Wolverhampton City Council cheesed off at MP's India trip claims

It was supposed to be a bombshell revelation – an MP discovering a council axing thousands of jobs had lavished tens of thousands of pounds on a five star hotel and pizzas.

MP Paul Uppal quoted incorrect figures and Councillor Roger Lawrence, who defended trip
MP Paul Uppal quoted incorrect figures and Councillor Roger Lawrence, who defended trip

But Tory Paul Uppal inadvertently misquoted Wolverhampton City Council’s foreign spending figures, which actually referred to rupees rather than pounds sterling.

He had accused the council of having ‘lost control’ of the spending in a row that has been dubbed Pizzagate.

He got his figures from a website the council uses to publish its spending, which appeared to show it spent £1,428 at a Pizza Hut in India.

It turned out to be just £14 because of the enormous exchange rate difference between the two currencies.

The figure was wrongly recorded with a pound sign in front of it on the Spotlight on Spend website, where the council lists all its spending.

Listen to the audio of the interview here:

The MP said it called into question the reliability of the council’s data and the authority has said it would the correct the website.

The council confirmed the figures for the Indian trade mission were recorded in rupees, which have an exchange rate of 0.0097 to a pound.

Mr Uppal, Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West, claimed in a live radio interview that the council spent £70,000 at the Westin Pune Koregaon Park in October last year. The council says this was 70,000 rupees and that the cost at the time came to £723.80.

Correct figures published by Wolverhampton City Council today
Correct figures published by Wolverhampton City Council today

Half of this was covered by the University of Wolverhampton and the money was then spent to host a reception.

The four-day £10,000 trade mission involved the council, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Wolverhampton and was set up to boost export links with India.

The row comes as councillors tonight prepare to vote on £123 million of cuts over the next five years and 2,000 job losses to cope with multi-million pound cuts in government funding.

The MP was taken to task by the council’s leader and fellow MP Pat McFadden today after he revealed the spending figures on the Pete Morgan breakfast show on BBC Radio WM.

The radio station later came up with the nickname Pizzagate.

Mr Uppal said the council spent £1,428 in a Pizza Hut in India. The council confirmed this was also in rupees and the bill was around £14 .

How the row spilled on to Twitter

After the error was pointed out Mr Uppal said: “How many other errors would be recorded like this? It makes me question the reliability of the council’s data.”

The council said the cash withdrawals may have been used by social workers looking after vulnerable children and adults with learning disabilities while the alcoholic drinks would have been mainly bought by the Civic Halls to sell at gigs and club nights.

Council leader Roger Lawrence said: “We are talking about a relatively small amount of money here that was funded by something called UK Trade and Industry which is actually part of the Government.”

Wolverhampton South East Labour MP Pat McFadden added: “The list Mr Uppal has produced to suggest the council’s financial problems are its own fault has crumbled into dust.”

 

Comments for: "Pizzagate: Wolverhampton City Council cheesed off at MP's India trip claims"

What's the worst that can happen !

Did Wolverhampton get any value of this trade trip to India?

bobwolf101

It is embarrassing for Liebour....lost the 44million pound surplus. But they can't explain where the money went. Its a disgrace!

Danimal

Fancy having a look at the 5 star Hotel in India where I expect they did not eat takeaway pizza?

Google Westin Pune Koregaon Hotel and check out the gallery in the Photos and Video section.

Wulfrunian

Blimey - makes the Civic Centre look like a third world slum !

Lakeside

Perhaps Paul Uppal would like to tell the people of Wolverhampton if he has achieved anything for the wider community at large since he was elected. I cannot recall a single instance of him doing anything for Wolverhampton that could be noted as his personal achievement. You can nit-pick about figures Mr Uppal but the fact is your Westminster career has done damn all for the town at large.

Totally agree. Tories are very good at moaning but offer little or no practical support to Wolverhampton Council or its citizens. In actual fact it is the Tories who have caused the latest furore by not providing the funds from Central Government that they said they would !

Ivor

Lakeside he's proved he reads the figures, the jokers that released the figures in £ sterling obviously didn't! but they will continue getting well paid salaries while Labour sack the workers

Marky

Sounds like Conservative MP Paul Uppal just stirring up trouble for the Labour Council. With the elections coming up there's no such thing as bad publicity for Paul, as long as he get his publicity he probably doesn't care if he was right or wrong

colindbaggie

So it might only be 44 million rupees what the council have wasted away then.

JM

Finance Officers are rubbish

MP's are rubbish

Councillors are rubbish

No one left to blame other than the Volunteers so blame them , job done , its not me guv its them

Can't understand why the Council is rubbish can you ?

No accountability

No responsibility

No respect

Turn the street lights off on the way out , I'll get my coat shall I ?

Wulfrunian

You would think that such a prominent Tory MP would be able to differentiate between pounds and poppadoms and roubles and rupees !

Lakeside

He can't, that's why he's an MP. If he had a brain he'd be something useful and important.

I too

Hey, I thought both the Council and the University were under hard times?

Cut, cut, cut the waste of time and money. India, China and Russia are investing in Britain so why go on a jolly?

Mr Uppal why did you not look into what The Lord...... was doing about his expenses claims. More pertinent I believe but he does run Cap Industries

ste

As far as the University is concerned, they get a lot of money from foreign students. Strengthening links with other countries like this is vital for them to keep attracting these students - Personally, I believe that this is one of the main reasons for Wolverhampton becoming a city. It looks a lot more enticing to someone looking to study from abroad

Thomas

A nice little opportunity for councillors to do what they do best ... deflect attention away from the real issue and engage in pointless meaningless political twaddle.

Ivor

Mr Uppal should not apologise over another case of Labour money mismanagement he should be given praise, how many highly paid Council managers and Councillors saw it and passed it off for publication?

no wonder the council is in a mess,

Roger Lawrence should tell us all

Why is the financial declaration wrong ?

What else is wrong with the "over £500" spend declaration ?

Is it OK to go on a Jolly to India if its cheap?

What was the amount of business this trip brought to Wolverhampton

What manager or Cabinet member OK'd this jolly?

With 1000's being made redundant, there are no cuts down on George Orwell' s Animal Farm

funny old world

They wouldn't have this problem if they used skype.

HSK

These people actually run Central and Local Government...God help us all!

middley

The real issue as other's have pointed out are, why did the trip go ahead anyway, how many people went at what cost for flights, expenses during the trip and then the total bill, why do they always have to hold a civic reception afterwards ? What are the people of Wolves going to get out of these trips ? how many per year to what places are done at what cost ? The biggest export I have heard to India recently is the closure of call centre's in Oldbury going back to India ! However Mr Uppal should get his fact's right before spouting on live radio show, and the so called finance managers should check the figures before printing them !