More great work from the Taxpayers Alliance. There is news (£) in The Times this morning on their research into spending by councils in the north east on flights.
Sunderland City Council spent more than £210,000 on flights from 2009 to 2012, the biggest spender in the north east. £62,000 was devoted to their town twinning arrangement with Washington DC. More than £10,000 went on two trips to South Africa to attend a Commonwealth Local Government Forum Good
Practice Scheme project. The council claims this junketing helps attract investment – but offers no evidence for this.
Newcastle City Council spent almost £110,000 on flights – but claimed to have no proper records of the reasons for the flights, or in many cases even the destinations.
Middlesbrough Council spent over £1,700 on flights to Germany for town twinning events. The council also spent £7,500 on flights to various European cities, New York and Miami to attend performing arts
events and arts fairs.
Gateshead Borough Council spent £736 attending the EU Covenant of Mayors and £630 on a flight to Shanghai for a Working with Headteachers' Group meeting. The Council also spent £15,192 on a Youth Exchange Visit to Komatsu City, Japan and £8,377 on another visit to Komatsu City to attend 20th Anniversary celebrations.
Stockton on Tees Borough Council spent £1,390 on flights to Rimini, Italy to attend the Entente Florale Europe Award Giving Ceremony and Exhibitions.
North Tyneside Borough Council spent £14,485 in 2011-12, compared to £11,856 the year before. Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s spending increased from £5,730 in 2010-11 to £14,215 in 2011-12.
I would like more detail on how many of the flights were economy. Most of the data doesn't give the cost per person. But we do see, for example, that Newcastle City Council spent £294.40 per person for flights from Newcastle to Paris. By contrast easyJet charge as little as £19.99 – plus an admin fee of £9. So each of the five people that the council sent on a jaunt to Paris (for a reason they can't remember) went on a flight costing ten times as much as necessary. Still the Council Taxpayer was picking up the tab so why bother finding a cheap flight?