Almost £60,000 spent on air travel for Norfolk County Council officers
Archant Norfolk 2018
Flights have been taken by council officers and councillors at Norfolk County Council almost 360 times in the past three years - at a cost of almost £60,000.
But council bosses said many of the trips were connected with social workers dealing with looked after children and their families.
The figures were revealed following a Freedom Of Information Act request by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
There were 359 flights at a cost of £57,964, with 91 of them overseas at a cost of almost £19,000. However, the council said, some costs were refunded.
For example, the most expensive trip was a council officer who flew from Norwich to Norway, via Amsterdam and back at a cost of just over £805.
The council said that was a cultural exchange programme - and the Norwegian government had refunded the cost.
Another notable trips saw just under £500 for a flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow. The council said that was for a social worker who had accompanied a child who had been returned to their family.
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Nine trips to and from Berlin, at a cost of £1,546.65, were taken by children’s services staff to learn best practice in early years provision in the German capital.
There was also a £424 premium economy flight to Edinburgh and on to Stornaway. But the council said that was somebody on placement from the British Museum, which refunded the cost.
There were also numerous flights to Manchester and Scotland. The council said flights meant people could return the same day, cutting hotel stay costs.
Andrew Proctor, council leader, said: “The vast majority of the county council’s business takes place right here in Norfolk.
“But some aspects of our work do require travel further afield, whether it is helping secure the best outcome for vulnerable children in our care, working with partners and representative organisations or learning lessons from other councils’ experiences.
“When we do travel it’s important that council business is undertaken in the most efficient and cost effective manner, with value for money and limiting the costs we ask taxpayers to bear of paramount importance.
“The impact of such travel on the environment is also an important factor: our work on a new environmental strategy will be looking at all aspects of council work over the coming months, including business travel.
“We aim to ensure that all travel undertaken by those on council business is not only necessary but as sustainable as possible.”
But Darwin Friend, researcher at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Norfolk ratepayers will be annoyed by these revelations. The council must prioritise keeping rates at reasonable levels and funding frontline services.”
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