Birmingham City Council members and staff have been jetting off to foreign climes spanning nearly every continent of the globe (see map), including jaunts to the Caribbean, Venice and Australia amongst others, and all at the expense of the local taxpayer.
The response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the West Midlands TaxPayers’ Alliance revealed that the local government workers managed to spend over £50,000 on just more than 100 flights over the last 12 months. What is more, it appears from some quick mental mathematics that Birmingham City Council are unfamiliar with low cost airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir as the bill for their flights averages out at a pretty extortionate £500 per journey.
This figure is particularly alarming when we consider that of the 81 destinations, over 70% of them were European. It looks suspiciously like council workers have been treating themselves to First Class travel at the expense of the people of Birmingham.
Birmingham International airport is only a few miles outside of the city and East Midlands airport is not much further away, and from these two many of the destinations on the list, including Paris, Milan, Prague and Madrid can be reached for less than £50 including air taxes. Even long-haul flights to India, China and many locations in the USA start at less than the stated £500 per journey. That council workers haven’t been encouraged to economise and fly with budget airlines or shop around for low cost offers, instead of blowing thousands of pounds of extra cash on inflated luxury travel fares, speaks volumes about their attitude towards the use of taxpayers’ money.
It’d be difficult to establish whether all of the these flights were completely necessary, that is good for the city of Birmingham, or whether this money could have been conserved for some more important service. However what is for certain is that Birmingham City Council cannot justify flying staff First Class using money from the public purse to locations spanning the globe, whether the trip is necessary or not.
After the revelation that this council spent over £1 million on taxi fares recently, it seems this sort of profligate spending is entrenched. This local authority should be forced to budget and seek the most economical way of liaising with foreign interests rather than idly squandering thousands of pounds on self-indulgent and exorbitant trips abroad.