UK councils rack up TWO MILLION air miles and £500,000 bill for flights amid climate warnings

UK councils rack up TWO MILLION air miles and a bill of almost £500,000 for flights and hotels while lecturing taxpayers about climate change

  • Councils have spent £480,000 on flights and hotels since 2019, research shows
  • More than 1,000 councillors and staff have visited countries as far away as Japan
  • At the same time many have tried to force households to become greener 

Town halls have racked up close to 2 million air miles in recent years despite lecturing residents about the ‘climate emergency’, it can be revealed.

Research has found that local authorities have spent £480,000 of public money on flights and hotels since 2019.

More than 1,000 councillors and staff jetted off on jaunts including to countries as far away as Japan, China and Cuba with hundreds more flying to France, Belgium and Germany.

Yet at the same time many have declared that the world is under threat from carbon emissions and have tried to force households to become greener – including charging motorists for polluting cars, closing roads to traffic and even issuing fines to people for not sorting their recycling properly.

Last night John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance which conducted the research, told the Mail: ‘Taxpayers will be furious at the foreign jollies they’ve been helping to fund.

‘While councils hike up rates and lecture residents about a climate emergency, bureaucrats are sent on luxury trips round the world.

‘If officials can’t keep costs down they should be sent packing.’

Research has found that local authorities have spent £480,000 of public money on flights and hotels since 2019.

Research has found that local authorities have spent £480,000 of public money on flights and hotels since 2019.

Yet at the same time many have declared that the world is under threat from carbon emissions and have tried to force households to become greener - including charging motorists for polluting cars, closing roads to traffic and even issuing fines to people for not sorting their recycling properly.

Yet at the same time many have declared that the world is under threat from carbon emissions and have tried to force households to become greener – including charging motorists for polluting cars, closing roads to traffic and even issuing fines to people for not sorting their recycling properly.

The campaign group’s analysis of figures obtained by local authorities across the UK found that 1,101 councillors and officials have flown by plane in the past three years.

In total they spent 3,351 days – close to a decade – travelling at taxpayers’ expense, flying the equivalent of four round trips to the moon.

By far the most trips, 527, were taken in 2019-20 with the number plunging to just 11 as Covid led to lockdowns around the world.

As overseas travel was opened up again after the pandemic, councils took 52 flights in the 2021-22 financial year.

Glasgow City Council was responsible for the most miles flown – 314,886 – even though it was the host city of last year’s Cop26 environmental summit.

One traveller spent four days in Shanghai for a meeting of the Lighting Urban Community International, at a cost of £1,059 for the plane tickets, while another enjoyed a week-long trip to Havana for a festival, with the flights costing £837 and accommodation another £854.

The Russian Cultural Centre paid for another Glasgow council representative to fly to Rostov-on-Don in order to visit schools.

In total its travel cost taxpayers £32,871 over the three years.

A spokesman said: ‘Glasgow has stood out on the international stage in recent years due to the high-profile events hosted in the city and its right the council makes the most of any opportunities to develop the city further.

‘All trips undertaken on behalf of the council have a clear work purpose such as planning for international events or working on internationally funded programmes that benefit our citizens.

‘We are also determined to maintain good relations with partner cities in Europe more so than ever and many trips are either partly or wholly funded by others.

‘Any spend on councillors is also subject to prior approval and every effort is made to minimise the cost of individual trips.’

The second largest number of air miles – 240,802 – was flown by Bristol City Council, which was the first local authority to declare a climate emergency back in 2018. As of next week, cars that do not meet its emission standards will have to pay £9 a day to drive into its Clean Air Zone.

Two officials flew to China before the pandemic to attend an international tourism conference with their trips paid for by Hunan province.

Also in 2019 others went to South Korea, the USA, Kenya and South Africa.

Its travels cost £32,219.

A spokesman for Bristol said: ‘It’s clear from the data that we regularly publish that, more often than not, external organisations – not council taxpayers – fund council officers’ flights.

‘As a global city, we will continue to bring new investment and new jobs to Bristol.’

The third most air miles – 165,120 – was flown by Birmingham City Council but it came top in cost at £43,063 for the three years.

Earlier this year a delegation including the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress flew to Pakistan to promote trade. The trip cost £9,796 in total.

Others flew to Dubai for a tourism mission and Cannes for a property conference.

The council is currently trying to cut car use through controversial Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods despite the opposition of many residents and businesses.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: ‘Birmingham is a city with an international reputation, so for a city of its size and post-Brexit, developing business, trade and investment opportunities outside the EU is vital, as is meeting representatives from other cities, investors and businesses to develop strategic relationships which aim to enhance Birmingham’s economic profile and contribute to its economic growth ambitions– as was the case in Islamabad and Dubai.’

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