Oslo Trip

November 22, 2011 8:51 AM

Fact finding missions have long been the butt of many jokes. You name the subject, and it seems an elected or unelected official has been forced into arduous foreign travel to get that final piece of information to complete the jigsaw. In our report earlier this month, we highlighted the foreign jaunts council taxpayers in the Midlands have had to pay for, and now another one has come across my radar.

The recycling rate in Hull is currently at 50%. This is above the target 45%, and residents of the city are regularly told to 'Recycle for Hull.' Not content with this, some councillors recently went on a fact-finding mission to Oslo to see how Norwegians dispose of their rubbish. They have already visited Rotherham, Sheffield and Swindon to see how its done there.

This had angered Cllr John Fareham, the leader of the Conservative Group, as the councillors who travelled to Norway are a sub-committee of the environment scrutiny commission. This means they can only recommend. They cannot make decisions.

The cost of the trip was under £1000, but to defend it as cheap (as a councillor has done) is missing the point.

A group of councillors and officials drove to Stansted Airport, stayed overnight, then flew to and from Oslo in the same day, and then drove back to Hull. The people who can make decisions about this were not present. It has to be asked what did they find out that they couldn't find out by research on the Internet, and a conference call on Skype?

If councillors spent our money in the same way they would spend their own, trips like this would not happen. All it achieves is two things. It makes councillors the butt of jokes, and gives the impression they have their snouts in the trough. I know that's not true of the majority of councillors. If they don't want to give the public that impression, they know what to do next time.Fact finding missions have long been the butt of many jokes. You name the subject, and it seems an elected or unelected official has been forced into arduous foreign travel to get that final piece of information to complete the jigsaw. In our report earlier this month, we highlighted the foreign jaunts council taxpayers in the Midlands have had to pay for, and now another one has come across my radar.

The recycling rate in Hull is currently at 50%. This is above the target 45%, and residents of the city are regularly told to 'Recycle for Hull.' Not content with this, some councillors recently went on a fact-finding mission to Oslo to see how Norwegians dispose of their rubbish. They have already visited Rotherham, Sheffield and Swindon to see how its done there.

This had angered Cllr John Fareham, the leader of the Conservative Group, as the councillors who travelled to Norway are a sub-committee of the environment scrutiny commission. This means they can only recommend. They cannot make decisions.

The cost of the trip was under £1000, but to defend it as cheap (as a councillor has done) is missing the point.

A group of councillors and officials drove to Stansted Airport, stayed overnight, then flew to and from Oslo in the same day, and then drove back to Hull. The people who can make decisions about this were not present. It has to be asked what did they find out that they couldn't find out by research on the Internet, and a conference call on Skype?

If councillors spent our money in the same way they would spend their own, trips like this would not happen. All it achieves is two things. It makes councillors the butt of jokes, and gives the impression they have their snouts in the trough. I know that's not true of the majority of councillors. If they don't want to give the public that impression, they know what to do next time.

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