Fury over foreign trips

JET-setting Suffolk County Council officials have spent more than £25,000 on dozens of foreign trips in the past two years, it has emerged.The figures have been revealed at a time when the authority is pushing through a £22million package of cuts, which could see services axed and vulnerable people hit.

JET-setting Suffolk County Council officials have spent more than £25,000 on dozens of foreign trips in the past two years, it has emerged.

The figures have been revealed at a time when the authority is pushing through a £22million package of cuts, which could see services axed and vulnerable people hit.

Last night, campaigners questioned the need for such spending when finance bosses are looking to slash budgets in various areas, including adult care, schools and roads.

But the council said the 76 trips undertaken by councillors and council employees over a two-year period are vital in learning new skills and attracting extra investment.

Jane Storey, portfolio holder for resources, finance and performance, said: “All foreign visits must demonstrate a clear business need before they are approved.

“No one place has the monopoly on good ideas. By visiting other countries we learn a lot from their work and bring back good practice to benefit the services we provide in Suffolk.

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“In many cases, the travel is at least partly funded by other organisations, such as central government or the European Union.”

Blair Gibbs, spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “Suffolk taxpayers will be shocked by these figures. Unfortunately, foreign junkets for council staff are now the norm.

“A new breed of local professional politicians is using our money to fly all over the world, with not much to show for it.

“What's worse is most of the overseas trips were by the Environment Directorate, which is supposed to be concerned about the damage done by airplane emissions.”