A three-person team representing Broadland flew out to the United Arab Emirates yesterday – with seven nights booked in a five-star hotel.

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The EDP’s paper version exclusively revealed yesterday deputy leader Jo Cottingham has been joined by two officers to represent the council in Al Ain at the International Awards for Liveable Communities, known as the LivCom Awards.

The authority is competing in five categories at the event, said to focus on international best practice of environmental issues and climate change, including the socio-economic section for the Rackheath retro-fit project.

Mrs Cottingham is to cover her own costs, while the council has confirmed it will pay the costs of Barbara Hornbrook, Broadland’s conservation manager, and Adam Banham, senior planning officer.

Flights and hotel charges for the two officers total £2,538, and include seven nights at the five-star Al Ain Rotana hotel at an average of £123 per night.

All the presentations are taking place in this hotel and discounted rates have been offered to all those involved in the event.

Broadland’s team left the UK yesterday and fly back from Dubai on Tuesday, November 27.

Fellow Broadland employee Susan Flack will also be attending the awards in her capacity as a LivCom judge.

Her costs will be paid for by LivCom.

Nich Starling, Liberal Democrat opposition leader, said he was amazed anyone thought the trip was a good idea.

He said: “Taxpayers in Broadland just want a good service and value for money. They don’t want to know their council enters international competitions and sends staff abroad to network as if we are some sort of Olympic team. We are not.

“At a time redundancies are being made to save money, it’s ridiculous to not economise on foreign trips.”

The authority says it previously won a bursary of £10,000 in a LivCom competition and it is competing for two bursaries this year. It adds action will be taken afterwards to rectify the carbon footprint of the trip.

Mrs Cottingham estimates she has put between 90 and 100 hours of her time into the project.

The council says officers also spent their own, unpaid time, producing one presentation and up to eight hours in related meetings.

Mrs Cottingham said: “People think it’s a jolly but we will not see the outside of the hotel. Everything is in the hotel – all the presentations are –we have five to make.

“There’s no way you can get people to understand that for the time we are out there, apart from the travelling time, it’s full-on.

“There’s presentations going on from 8.30am to 6pm. When we are not presenting we have to watch other people’s presentations as we have to score them as well as the judges.”

52 comments

  • Apart from commenting on the astounding block on posts, may I just say that the Broadland Cabinet is modelling itself on the NCC Cabinet in terms of arrogance. That is hardly surprising, since Cllr Andrew Procter clearly models himself on Cllr Derrick Murphy, his great chum.

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • @Dave01...there should be an award for which council can find the best jolly to go on.....What an EXCELLENT idea! We should call it The Jo Cottingham Jolly Award. We will need a committee, a venue, a prize, and most importantly nominations. Who is interested?

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • So what exactly is there about the development at Rackheath to retro fit and what is worth discussing with an international body of representatives from the likes of Broad land Council? And how we feel about council employees attending conferences about environmental matters and climate change depends whether we swallow the IPCC's twaddle.What is she anyway-what is her area of expertise? The conservation manager might just have an excuse for going to conferences with like experts but the name Liveable Communities probably sums it all up for the cynical when we know that the best councils can do in the face of developers' financial clout is sniff for crumbs from the table. The aims are fine, make where we live as nice as they can, but that does not need prizes nor conferences, just a bit of common sense and the ability to make developers comply

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • A Councillor to receive any awards, an officer to take photos and an officer to hold the bag of council money.....that's why you need at least a team of 3.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I actually think that ALL politicians should be sent to Saudi-or even futher if possible. Why on earth do we, as a proud nation, put up with all this anagram of carp?

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. Of course it's a jolly and total waste of money.

    Report this comment

    richard ash

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • nrg

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • The council is laying off staff and cutting services but think it is OK to waste money like this? What a disgrace!

    Report this comment

    Cyril the Canary

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Unbelievable. Thanks for the EDP for uncovering this. Jollies of this sort are not welcome by the taxpaying public at any time but when they are making people redundant simultaneously it is obscene. Roll on the day more people join brave Kim David-Claydon as an independent councillor. Reality checks all round at that point. And may we have clarification on La Cottingham's statement that she is paying her own way. How? Will we be seeing this appear in her councillor expenses? And believe you me we will be looking so let's have the facts now.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Dubai and Abu Dhabi are great holiday destinations,but what has this to do with Council FREE Trips

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I don't think Mrs. Cottingham quite understands the objections to this. I'm sure that she and her team will be hard at work indoors, but I doubt that it will be much of a hardship inside a 5-star hotel. What is extraordinary are the fatuous reasons given for this jaunt, none of which justify it as necessary or even worthwhile. Assuming that they win another £10k bursary, I should think the hotel bills, along with the other incidental expenses (travel to airport, subsistence etc,) incurred by all concerned, both in the UK and UAE, will put a dent in that. As for "rectifying the carbon footprint", I had to laugh at this buzzword nonsense. The curse of today are these jollys, meetings and the rest. They should stay in Broadland and do the job they are all in some degree being paid for.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I wonder how these people manage to sleep at nights, this is first class taking the you know what, then attempt to justify their actions under some pretence of actually doing something, the best thing they could do is stay there and bleed the economy of the UEA. The working class are getting bled dry as we have to make cuts and save money and these leeches swan of to live a life of luxury. Hang your heads in shame people.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Sorry this is just not on,councillors need to join the real world many people work lots of unpaid hours and do not receive the silly salaries that senior councillors are paid when at work,a total waste of money. From the other direction though why oh why do we need all these self gratification awards events.Lots of none jobs created organising such events which are of no interest to anyone other than the people who want an ego boost

    Report this comment

    Cynical Bob

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • What we need is an Arab like spring movement to boot these sun-seeking numpties out of office.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • So flying to the UAE for 7 nights in a 5 star hotel is not a Jolly ?? and Jo Cottingham says " we will not see the outside of the hotel " errr well lets see a 5 Star Hotel Why would you want to go outside of the Hotel ?? i also wonder if they are All Inclusive ?? This is a JOKE to spend so much money on a trip like this.

    Report this comment

    CanarySid

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I do not live in the Broadland area but I'm confident South Norfolk wouldn't act like that. However, presumably Broadland has four personnel (Jo, Barbara, Adam and Susan) who are not missed while out for a week simultaneously on a 'jolly' and, the cost is only a few person's annual council tax! Presumably they made their own way to the airport and the hotel costs are all inclusive too? Anyone else believe in Father Christmas?

    Report this comment

    F G HOB

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Seven nights inside a 5 star hotel without being able to go outside! Guess there'll be a gym and a luxury swimming pool, all food laid on etc. Why would you want to go out? Next stop "I'm a Celebrity"?

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • are we back to censoring comments about cllr.s wasting public money?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Of course its Not a Jolly, ha ha ha. If you believe that then you live in the land of Pixies with all the other politicians. The people want Council Services Not tatty award plaques!

    Report this comment

    Farquarson-Smythe

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • No-one asked them to enter an award ..or judge them ...they surely have better things to do with their time and effort ,which we pay them for ..!.. If it sounds like a jolly ;looks like a jolly;it's denied its a jolly ; but it costs like a jolly....it's a jolly...! As a local shop owner I need to get into politics ..!

    Report this comment

    John

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Inside the Hotel is an Alcohol Oasis for the Infidels of Broadland Council. Why would they go outside? Animal Farm writ large. And the lady doth protest too much. Truly obscene.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I would like to know why Mrs Cottingham is paying her own expenses if the trip is all work and no play and entitled to be paid for out of public funds?

    Report this comment

    JanieH

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Its about time we started to look at getting rid of local councils altogether. Theres no reason why one council couldn't run the whole of Norfolk or even the whole of East Anglia. Some have been talking about merging for decades but it never happens because those involved don't want to jump off the gravy train. They are obscenely wasteful, inefficient, expensive and some like Yarmouth as just one example have done nothing but help to run down and decline the economy of their areas over the years. Get rid of them now!

    Report this comment

    chris

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Hmmm! Thanks to the vastly overinflated council tax I pay to these people,my standard of living on my very modest pension has been lowered! Jollys like this are the reason council tax is so high,and the reason local government must be cut down to size!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • If you knew the REAL amount this and every other council wasted on perks, jollies and 'expenses' this would be a mere drop in the ocean. The groveling justifications have put me off my breakfast.

    Report this comment

    Rob_H

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Staff queried why they were going apparently ages ago, with compulsory redundancies in future, these so called honest councillors should look at themselves.....not all the staff that work there are like them...... In it for themselves only these council members......

    Report this comment

    Mollybobs

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

  • Disgusting! Another example of spending taxpayers' money needlessly. When will this all end????

    Report this comment

    Thunderchild

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I think it is interesting that a) Cottingham is paying her own expenses when this is supposedly a council approved trip and b) that one of the member of staff also attending these awards is also the member of staff who she has to declare an interest for at Council because of their friendship. I would like to know how the Council defines 'Realtionship at work that may infringe a councillors judgement'.? It all looks incredibly suspicious to me.

    Report this comment

    Lupin

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Thought that might happen.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • No comments after 6 hours? Must be some suppression of views going on here. This must be one of the most crass pieces of behaviour yet. unbelievable.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Disgraceful abuse of taxpayers money shame on them.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Archant censorship at it's very worst.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I seem alone in spotting this irony...." international best practice of environmental issues and climate change, including the socio-economic section for the Rackheath retro-fit project." Now if they had cycled or used a bus I'd be impressed!!! But they flew 14 or so around the world, 12 way by the time they get back, still I supppose in a way it was public transport!

    Report this comment

    windup

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Mrs Cottingham has obviously not been to UAE before if she is stating that it some sort of trail by ''not seeing the outside of the hotel' - the whole thing about UEA is that 'everything' is inside the hotel! Cinema's, Shopping Malls, Gyms, etc etc - there actually is nothing to see outside the hotels and it far too hot to bother going outside - we are not talking about the same as staying at the Holiday Inn in Hemel Henpsted for 7 nights - not quite the same league.

    Report this comment

    malmocanary

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Unbelievable. What planet are these public servants on? The concerning thing is they probably really do think they are 'working' for the good of public. If only they put as much effort into their real duties... of course this is a jolly and ego massaging exercise at tax payers expense, jollys often happen in councils...there should be an award for which council can find the best jolly to go on. Perhaps there should be a JJJC (Jolly Justification Joint Committee) meeting before such events.

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • South Norfolk wouldn't behave like this? Ho ho ho! They are all up to it. Let's have our own People's Award for the best Council in Norfolk and not award it to anybody. They could always go on a jolly though. We can supply them with pup tents on the field next door to Banham Zoo. Apparently the furry and feathery alarm clocks are very loud - That is about what they are worth.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Oh well, if it isn't a jolly, can I go as well? I've got my toothbrush packed! F G HOB, re South Norfolk, I have got to admire your confidence.

    Report this comment

    Jaguar

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Well that's just great... I am so pleased my Council Tax is being used to such good effect. Oh wait, sorry is sarcasm allowed here? What we must remember is that not only are these two officers having their expenses paid, they will also receive a salary for the time they spend in these rather luxurious surroundings. It's abuse of public funds like this that will be the death of the public sector in this country. Wonder if Eric Pickles would have a view on this?

    Report this comment

    fight back

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • No comments? How strange!!

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • You can;t value best practice highly enough, it is money well spent as long as the learnings are implemented upon their return.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • I think it is great that the EDP has run this story and exposed what I feel is an outrageous waste of time and money. I cannot imagine what benefit can come out of this that will give the council or anybody in the 'team' that went out there an advantage. In these times of austerity we want to see people who work for government setting a very clear example by going about their business in a manner that does not bring their motives into question. The expense of this trip seems hard to justify in real terms. One of the key 'benefits' given by LivCom for participation in the awards is "Meeting with delegates from communities from other countries and cultures that are facing similar challenges to those faced by your community leads to the formation of partnerships to exchange information and experiences, and the arranging of exchange technical visits on an ongoing basis" - so I take it that this will not be the last of these trips? A quote from Broadland on this please?

    Report this comment

    Beady

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • This is absolutely disgusting and Mr Proctors attempts to justify it on the radio were nothing short of pathetic.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • In this day and age, there is no need to travel. As the good lady is only going "to see the inside of a hotel", why didn't she and her team make use of the council chambers with a smart screen and "Skype". True, she'd have to account for the time difference and she won't get 5 star treatment but it'll would have saved an awful lot of taxpayers money

    Report this comment

    richard black

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Off course its a jolly. If the award is genuine, it will award excellence whether Cllr. Cottingham and helpers have flown in or not. Its a waste of public money.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • This is absolutely scandalous and shows complete disdain for both the general public and those workers who are facing compulsory redundancy at Broadland DC. Just what planet are these people living on?

    Report this comment

    Cuthbert J. Twillie

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • The council is laying off staff and cutting services but think it is OK to waste money like this? What a disgrace!

    Report this comment

    Cyril the Canary

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Parasites!

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Yet another example of a tax funded organisation completely unaware of the requirements of their duties. One quango patting another on the back at hard pressed ratepayer's expense. Get real......

    Report this comment

    davidlinder

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • What an extraordinarily ill-informed and ignorant bunchof cocommentators. I travel overseas regularly for work meetings. I rarely see more than the inside of my hotel room and the meeting room. The trips involve long hours, often 18 hours a day, and hard work. They also eat into my (unpaid) own time due to long hours spent travelling at weekends. I often arrive home late on Sunday night and then have to get into the office for nine on Monday morning. The benefits to my employer customers are much greater knowledge and ideas from around the world which are often implemented in three UK to the financial benefit if it's taxpayers. Get a grip and drag yourselves out of your colloquial little-Britain world.

    Report this comment

    ScotCan

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • censor by delay and obfuscation, yawn.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • Terrible. If Broadland DC was eligible for an award and the award ceremony was a a fair competition that is judged on the facts, best get our own judge in there, then they would have been awarded their price, with or without being in the UAE. Off course it is a jolly.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • i wonder if the people who are about to loose their Jobs after xmas at Broadland Council, feel the same as the councilors going on the "Not a Jolly"

    Report this comment

    Farquarson-Smythe

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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