The Conservatives on Cornwall Council have voiced outrage after figures from a Freedom of Information request put into Cornwall Council show that more taxpayer money has been spent on costly overseas trips by officers, with no outcomes apparent and without the knowledge of councillors.
The Cornwall Development Company , wholly-owned by Cornwall Council, has attended 46 overseas events or trade missions since November 2015. These include multiple trips to Singapore and one to New Zealand which have cost the Cornish taxpayer thousands of pounds. This comes on top of the shocking revelations last year where officers spent £46,000 attending the notoriously boozey MIPIM conference in Cannes.
And Senior Councillors at the Administration running Cornwall Council were simply unaware of them. Commenting to Cornwall Reports, Cabinet Member Cllr Bon Egerton said:
“I would not expect to know about all the trips that officers from that group might make. I hope that they are productive but obviously there is no guarantee that they all will be,”
Commenting, Conservative Group Leader Cllr Linda Taylor said:
“This is breath-taking, a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money. I am all in favour of flying the flag for Cornwall, but where is the material benefit?
“It is not right that elected Cornwall councillors know nothing about what is going on at these arms-length companies. We must have regular disclosure about what is going on, and a proper audit of any benefit that we are supposed to see at the end of it.”
“I am really unhappy about this and will be demanding a robust system of checks-and-balances to make sure that people are not just jetting about for the sake of it.”
“More so it isn’t that these figures have been released voluntarily by the officers. Conservatives including myself at the last Cabinet meeting, have been asking for these figures since earlier this year. That they have not been released, and instead have been pried away from them by a Freedom of Information request speaks volumes. We want to know why the officers aren’t being transparent about their spending of taxpayer money, and more-so why the Lib Dems and their friends who are supposed to be running the council did not know about what is going on. The Cabinet Members are all paid a substantial additional allowance to do their jobs and as it stands it looks like they are being kept in the dark just like the rest of us.”
“This really isn’t good enough. It is time the administration opens up to the people we are all supposed to be representing about what is going on here!”