Almost £80,000 spent on air travel for Norfolk County Council officers
PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:59 01 July 2018
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Almost £80,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on air travel by Norfolk County Council officers in the past three years - with the bulk of the flights for social workers to assess families overseas and to take children to visit their families.
Figures produced by the Taxpayers’ Alliance suggested County Hall had spent nearly £120,000 on flights since 2015, but the council said the actual figure was £78,716 for 446 flights.
A spokesman said: “There are a range of reasons why officers may need to travel by air, and the vast majority of these (£64,400) was spent on flights taken by social workers to assess families overseas and to take children to visit extended family.
“In addition, the council wants to attract overseas investment and business to Norfolk to help boost the local economy and to make use of global skills and knowledge to improve our services.
“This has, at times, involved overseas travel and we will always seek to use external funding for this, wherever this is possible.” A further £11,172 came from external funding.
The spokesman added: “We will always use the most cost-effective method of travel and in many cases internal flights are cheaper and quicker than train travel, particularly for a rural county like Norfolk. “Any requests must be carefully considered and approved by a senior officer.”
Suffolk County Council spent nearly £20,000. Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance at the council, said the cheapest choice was made and some were made in relation to specific European Union projects.
Elsewhere in Norfolk, West Norfolk Borough Council spent £7,835.14 on 14 flights. A spokeswoman said 11 were to bring in artists from Hanseatic countries for the International Hanse Day festival.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council spent £3,344.98 on seven flights. The council said that included flights for economic development officers to attend exhibitions such as Europe’s biggest oil and gas exhibition in Aberdeen.
North Norfolk District Council spent £1,406.99 on six flights, South Norfolk Council £925.55, Broadland District Council £256.88 and Breckland Council £426.31.
Norwich City Council did not provide figures to the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Waveney District Council bought no flights.