Cash-strapped council racks up £35k party bill

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A CASH-strapped South Yorkshire council spent £35,000 sending its staff and elected members on trips to awards ceremonies over the past three years, it has been revealed.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show Rotherham Council spent the most of any council in Yorkshire and the Humber on sending representatives to the events. The majority of the sum was racked up in 2007/8, when £22,000 was spent – £7,300 of it on sending 18 staff and councillors to the Hilton Hotel on London’s exclusive Park Lane for the 2007 Municipal Journal Awards, where the council booked out two full tables.

Rotherham Council then spent £3,000 sending eight representatives to the 2008 Local Government Chronicle Awards, also in London and £2,000 sending staff and councillors to the Public Service Excellence Awards in Gateshead.

In 2008/9 the council spent £9,100 sending representatives to awards ceremonies, including £4,000 for 10 people to go to another event at the Hilton.

The authority, which is implementing £16.5m spending cuts in 2011/12, had reduced spending on attending awards ceremonies to £3,700 in 2009/10.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Awards promote pride and achievement by staff and also boost Rotherham’s image and reputation, which is vital to attract inward investment that will create jobs and boost the economy.”

But she added the amount being paid for attending such events had been reduced to reflect “prudent spending”.