Jolly good?

COUNCILLORS have expressed concern about rising costs of overseas trips by Glasgow city council.

Expenses for overseas trips and hotel stays have risen by more than £11,000 in the 
last year.

In 2010-2011, £29,200 was attributed to hotel accommodation and foreign travel.

In 2011-2012, £41,000 of taxpayers’ cash was spent by the council on similar excursions.

The figures were revealed via the Freedom of 
Information Act.

Among the destinations visited on official business were Tel Aviv, Cuba, New York, Chicago, Toronto and South Africa.

Another dozen travelled to Nuremberg for a Burns supper and Scottish cultural showcase.

Linn councillor Glen Elder, an SNP member, criticised GCC’s spending.

He told The Extra: “I find it remarkable that, as the council and other public bodies strive to make budgets work in these difficult financial times, Labour in Glasgow can find ever larger sums for foreign travel.

“While there is a potential economic benefit for Glasgow from certain visits abroad, we should, in my view, be extremely careful in selecting where our senior councillors and officers go and the reasons for their travelling”.

One trip saw former lord provost Bob Winter and two representatives fly to a World Water Forum in Marseille at a cost of £900.

David Meikle, Glasgow’s only Conservative councillor reacted in anger to the findings.

The Pollokshields councillor told The Extra: “It’s outrageous that the council is spending more on foreign travel for councillors and staff, especially during these tough economic times.

“What’s even more galling is that the council complains about spending cuts yet can find money to spend on trips abroad”.

A Glasgow council spokes­man said the overseas travel “helped to promote the city culturally and as a travel 
destination”, however, the environmental impact of councillors’ jetsetting has been criticised by Langside’s Green councillor Liam Hainey.

“There are other ways to 
get to Nuremberg and Marseille apart from flying”, said Mr Hainey. There are more cost effective ways. Environmentally and economically, jet setting is not good”.

He continued: “I understand the benefits of promoting Glasgow to the rest of the world but GCC has to be more frugal, especially at this time.

“The council should try and scale their travelling back a bit as it is difficult to see a direct benefit.

“It is probably a difficult pill to swallow for taxpayers and they could be quite justified in being concerned”.