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Lib Dems criticise Surrey Conservatives for wasting Council Taxpayers money on residential trip

December 4, 2012 4:54 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Farnham Castle (©2012 Google )Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have criticised the Conservative-run administration at County Hall for spending £4,158 of Surrey Council Taxpayers money on a two day trip to Farnham Castle in Surrey for 26 senior Conservative councillors and council officers.

The residential trip, from 5 - 6 November, was held in the picturesque setting of the 12th century castle, which was a residence of the wealthy bishops of Winchester and boasts historic meeting rooms all with a view over the stunning grounds and gardens and a Norman dining room, when the County Council has its own conference facilities that it could have used instead.

Hazel Watson, the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on Surrey County Council, questioned the Conservative Leader of the Council about the visit at the most recent meeting of the Council's all Conservative Cabinet. The Conservative Leader responded that businesses with a similar financial turnover to Surrey County Council sometimes hold such meetings overseas.

Hazel Watson said: "Holding the meeting at Farnham Castle was not a good use of Council Taxpayers money, when essential services for those most in need in Surrey, such as respite care and support for voluntary organisations are being cut.

"If the Conservative Cabinet does this regularly the money wasted could increase considerably over time.

"It sends a message to the organisation that it is acceptable to fritter money away like this. The Conservative Council Leader's reference to meetings taking place overseas was particularly inappropriate because the County Council is a publicly funded body, not a business.

"The meeting could have been held away from County Hall in another County Council building such as Consort House in Redhill, which has plenty of conference rooms available.

"Surrey residents had to dig deep into their pockets to pay one of the highest Council Tax increases in the country this year, while the Conservative administration continues to cut services for those in need, and repairs to Surrey's roads have a backlog of millions of pounds in necessary repairs. Council Taxpayers will rightly ask what the priorities of the Conservative administration are when they are happy to spend their money unnecessarily on such a trip."