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Wolverhampton Council spends £18,000 on two trips to France property convention

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Politics | Published:

Wolverhampton Council spent more than £18,000 of taxpayers' money on two trips to a real estate exhibition in France, figures have revealed.

Cannes, France, where the annual MIPIM conference is held

Three officers and a councillor visited the MIPIM International Property Convention in Cannes, with the two trips costing a combined £18,739 in travel and expenses.

On one of these trips three officers and a councillor spent £9,999 on accommodation and expenses, while on the other two officers spent £5,440.

The cost of travel was £2,200 and £1,100 for the respective visits.

Meanwhile the EU spent £10,154 on 18 individual foreign trips for council officers to a variety of locations, including Gen Y City workshops in Norway, Italy, France and Poland, as well as a trip to Brussels for the International Urban Co-operation workshop and a further trip to Italy as part of the Erasmus scheme.

An all-expenses paid trip for one officer to "look into developing relations and securing investment" in the UAE was covered by the hosts in the gulf state.

And a party of three officers and three councillors flew out to Shimla, India, in a visit funded by the EU but the cost of this trip has not been disclosed.

Details of the visits have been released following research by the Taxpayers' Alliance.

The spending relates to the tax years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

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The body criticised the authority for sending officials on "jollies" while needing to save millions of pounds.

The authority, however, said most trips were paid for by the hosts and those that were funded by the council had delivered benefits for the city.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: “Wolverhampton ratepayers will be annoyed by these revelations.

“Councillors and officials have been splashing taxpayer cash on foreign junkets at the same time as rates have soared.

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“The council must have been aiming for an acting award at the Cannes Festival, given it claimed to have massive funding shortages yet managed to pay for councillors and officers to enjoy jollies on the Mediterranean coast.

“The council must prioritise keeping rates at reasonable levels and funding frontline services."

Councillor Louise Miles, cabinet member for resources at Wolverhampton Council, said: “We keep foreign trips to a minimum and wherever possible costs are paid for by the hosts as is demonstrated in the cases highlighted here.

"The council does send a small delegation alongside our Midlands partners to MIPIM, the world’s leading property event, in France each year which has brought big benefits to the city.

“MIPIM provides a global platform to sell what Wolverhampton has to offer as part of the Midlands UK delegation. Multi-billion-pound regeneration is changing the face of our city and creating a wealth of attractive opportunities for developers and investors.

"Court Collaboration on our exciting Brewers Yard city living scheme is an example of a major partner we met at MIPIM.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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