ELECTED councillors from a small North Yorkshire authority stayed at London hotels at the taxpayers’ expense, Freedom of Information requests have revealed.
Data obtained by the Yorkshire Post showed hotels used by members of Ryedale District Council who had overnight stays in the capital while attending seminars included the £211-a-night The Grand at Trafalgar Square.
A councillor from Ryedale also stayed at the £186-a-night Hilton Metropole in central London, while another stayed two nights at the boutique Park City Hotel in Kensington, costing £320.
And a councillor, along with chief executive Janet Waggott, stayed two nights at the 200-year-old Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate – the neighbouring district to Ryedale – while attending the annual Local Government Association (LGA) annual conference in 2009. The bill for taxpayers came to £561.
Ms Waggott told the Yorkshire Post conferences are often held in expensive hotels and it sometimes “makes good sense” for those attended to spend the night there.
“Both officers and members of Ryedale District Council follow specific policies in relation to attending conferences and seminars, and subsequent expenses incurred through accommodation and travel.
“Events, especially in London, more often than not are in a hotel venue where staying at or near that venue makes good sense.
“The sharing of ideas on best practice, networking and (forming) effective working relationships are key benefits of attending national conferences.
“Workshops and lectures often take place out of the normal 9am to 5pm work hours. The benefits of networking at such events can help to deliver more cost-effective and efficient services.
“The only national conference I attend is the LGA conference, which takes place annually at different locations in the country.”