Councils splash-out over £2 million on away days

May 26, 2011 1:13 PM

A Sky News Waste Watch investigation has today revealed that councils spent more than £2 million on away days over the last two years. Laser tag, trips to the zoo, Centre Parcs and narrow boat outings are some out of office trips local authorities made when they should be eradicating all unnecessary spending. Westminster council were the biggest spenders with £164,275. Some specific examples are:

  • Eight officers from Rutland District Council spent £80 on Laser-tag in June 2009

  • Shepway District Council spent £1,085 at Port Lympne Zoo Park in 2009

  • Wiltshire County Council spent £2,010 on a trip to centre parcs in July 2010 and £290 to hire a narrow boat in May 2009

  • Leicestershire County Council splashed out £231 for a barge in April 2010


The boating theme is a popular one but sport venues are also a particularly well-liked choice for away days:

  • Carmarthenshire Council spent £17,976.93 at Parc y Scarlet’s Rugby Stadium and also visited Ffoslas Racecourse

  • Nottingham City Council enjoyed away days at the National Water sports Centre and Trent Bridge Cricket Ground - perhaps explaining their reluctance to open up their spending over £500 like all other councils in the UK have done

  • Greenwich Council spent £13,000 on team building sessions at Charlton Athletic FC




[caption id="attachment_38292" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Is this really the best venue for an away day?"][/caption]

Ironically councils spent thousands of pounds on away days to discuss ways in which they could save money. The London Borough of Merton spent £10,269 at the Hilton Hotel in Cobham including £4,000 on food and drink for ‘training focusing on making efficiency savings’ in July 2009.

The research carried out by Sky also uncovered some councils displaying a more prudent approach. West Berkshire Council held a team development meeting in a Village Hall where staff took their own sandwiches and paid for the hire of the venue by donating their time clearing allotments and paths. Oxfordshire County Council displayed a similar level of thriftiness in holding an away day in a team members house with attendees providing their own food. It is clear from this that councils can still perform their duties and host vital meetings at little or no cost. It is simply unacceptable to see councils spending so much money at a time when they tell us they are cutting back.

Councils need to make better use of their own resources and learn from councils that have managed to arrange away days but at no or very little cost to the taxpayer. Councils keep telling us they’ve made all savings possible, these findings tell us this is not the case.A Sky News Waste Watch investigation has today revealed that councils spent more than £2 million on away days over the last two years. Laser tag, trips to the zoo, Centre Parcs and narrow boat outings are some out of office trips local authorities made when they should be eradicating all unnecessary spending. Westminster council were the biggest spenders with £164,275. Some specific examples are:

  • Eight officers from Rutland District Council spent £80 on Laser-tag in June 2009

  • Shepway District Council spent £1,085 at Port Lympne Zoo Park in 2009

  • Wiltshire County Council spent £2,010 on a trip to centre parcs in July 2010 and £290 to hire a narrow boat in May 2009

  • Leicestershire County Council splashed out £231 for a barge in April 2010


The boating theme is a popular one but sport venues are also a particularly well-liked choice for away days:

  • Carmarthenshire Council spent £17,976.93 at Parc y Scarlet’s Rugby Stadium and also visited Ffoslas Racecourse

  • Nottingham City Council enjoyed away days at the National Water sports Centre and Trent Bridge Cricket Ground - perhaps explaining their reluctance to open up their spending over £500 like all other councils in the UK have done

  • Greenwich Council spent £13,000 on team building sessions at Charlton Athletic FC




[caption id="attachment_38292" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Is this really the best venue for an away day?"][/caption]

Ironically councils spent thousands of pounds on away days to discuss ways in which they could save money. The London Borough of Merton spent £10,269 at the Hilton Hotel in Cobham including £4,000 on food and drink for ‘training focusing on making efficiency savings’ in July 2009.

The research carried out by Sky also uncovered some councils displaying a more prudent approach. West Berkshire Council held a team development meeting in a Village Hall where staff took their own sandwiches and paid for the hire of the venue by donating their time clearing allotments and paths. Oxfordshire County Council displayed a similar level of thriftiness in holding an away day in a team members house with attendees providing their own food. It is clear from this that councils can still perform their duties and host vital meetings at little or no cost. It is simply unacceptable to see councils spending so much money at a time when they tell us they are cutting back.

Councils need to make better use of their own resources and learn from councils that have managed to arrange away days but at no or very little cost to the taxpayer. Councils keep telling us they’ve made all savings possible, these findings tell us this is not the case.

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