Council defends flights expense

W36332P9_Wsg_TownHall   Phot Malcolm  080909''The area outside Worthing town hall.W36332P9
W36332P9_Wsg_TownHall Phot Malcolm 080909''The area outside Worthing town hall.W36332P9

Worthing Borough Council officers took flights to Scotland, Belfast and Hungary at taxpayers’ expense over the last three years, freedom of information requests revealed.

The council defended the ‘modest’ £2,064 spend uncovered by the Taxpayers’ Alliance as part of a nationwide investigation into local authority flight expenses.

Economy-class trips to Edinburgh, Belfast, Budapest and Inverness were taken, according to information from the FOI request, flights the council said related to scouting cultural talents.

A council spokesman said: “From what we can see this modest amount over three years is for our head of culture visiting Edinburgh Festival to scout up and coming acts.

“She has her accommodation paid for by the Arts Council.

“It’s obviously important when programming our increasingly successful and varied events that she is aware of up and coming, trending and increasingly successful acts. We would soon get criticism if our programmes weren’t fresh and enticing.

“The Hungarian trip was at the invite of the Government’s Culture Department to see some of their cutting-edge circus acts. All accommodation and living expenses were covered by the Government.”

The Herald pressed the council on whether the trip to Hungary resulted in any bookings.

After three requests, the spokesman said: “We are currently in negotiations with one of the companies we saw to come over next year. Logistics didn’t work for this but looking promising for next.”

The request revealed 13 tickets to Edinburgh and one each to Budapest, Inverness and Belfast. Flights to Hungary and back cost £84.17 of the £2,064.82 total.