By Jonathan Isaby
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The Daily Telegraph this morning runs a story about how councils have been spending money on taxpayer-funded credit cards, based on Freedom of Information requests answered by 186 authorities.
Despite being ordered to cut spending by almost 30 per cent, town hall chiefs have continued to lavish hundreds of thousands of pounds on dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants, leisure trips and expensive gifts including iPads and video games while slashing jobs and scrapping front-line services.
An investigation by The Daily Telegraph has uncovered details of apparently questionable spending decisions by councillors and local government officials, with more than £2 million spent on travel over the last three years, including flights to Thailand, Kenya and Bermuda.
Documents obtained by this newspaper show that the councils also spent £2m on hotel bills, including stays at the famous Four Seasons in New York, the five-star Pan Pacific in Singapore, and the Athens Hilton.
Eric Pickles, the Local Government and Communities Secretary, responds thus:
"It appears that for years, some councils have been enjoying the high life paid for by you and me. Now that we are forcing councils to release details of their expenditure, the culture of wild overspends and excess which became the norm under Labour, will hopefully become a thing of the past.”
Click here to read more details – although who knows what horrors are buried inside the 252 councils which claimed to the Telegraph that they were unable to disclose details of their credit card bills.