Councillors reveal details of spending on overseas travel

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Sheffield councillors have revealed they made five trips abroad over the last year costing taxpayers more than £5,000.

The details were revealed following a question at a full meeting of Sheffield Council.

Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, flew to America to attend a conference about climate change in San Francisco.

The £2,338.35 cost was met by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Council leader Julie Dore made a visit to Chengdu, which was part-funded by the Chinese.

In her answer to the written question in full council, Coun Dore originally said the trip had been ‘at no cost to the council’.

But the council later revealed her £706.04 flight was paid for by the authority through its Creative Sheffield development agency.

Cabinet member for business Coun Leigh Bramall made a trip to Chengdu at a cost of £1,500, also funded by Creative Sheffield. He made a second trip costing £400 to Dortmund, Germany – funded by the European Union.

Council deputy leader and cabinet member for housing Coun Harry Harpham went to Holland by ferry for a fact-finding mission about self-build housing.

The trip cost £200, funded by the council.

Edward Highfield, director of Creative Sheffield, said: “Sheffield is a big city competing with others out there trying to create jobs, and we need to do the same.

“Although extremely rare, and only ever used where essential, travel abroad can bring direct jobs and investment to Sheffield.

“We need to be a more outward-looking, export-oriented economy. We can’t always do that by staying in Sheffield.

“We need Sheffield to be more active and visible on the world stage and from time to time that will mean overseas travel.”

He said one of the visits to China had led directly to an export project supporting more than 30 local businesses to enter the export market and research work by other cities to tackle the effects of climate change had led to new action being taken in Sheffield.

“The majority of the cabinet member trips have been paid for through other funding sources and at no expense to the council taxpayer,” Mr Highfield added.

Rotherham Council has also sent a delegation to Romania to attend a conference to discuss ‘best practice in the fields of health and adult social care’.

The four-day trip to ‘partnership town’ Cluj-Napoca was paid for by the Romanian town, the council said.