Greenwich Council leader's £10,000 French tall ships visit branded 'ridiculous jolly' (From News Shopper)
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Greenwich Council leader's £10,000 French tall ships visit branded 'ridiculous jolly'
GREENWICH Council's leader has been accused of going on another "jolly" - this time to the south of France.
Councillor Chris Roberts, recently caught on tape swearing like a sailor, went to the four-day Toulon Regatta at the end of last month with eight other people as preparation for next year's Greenwich Tall Ships event.
Two council project managers plus Royal Museums and Cutty Sark Trust representatives, cabinet member Councillor Peter Kotz, chief executive Mary Ney and senior employees Katrina Delaney and Matthew Norwell also attended.
Labour councillors have been told the price of hotels and accommodation came to around £10,000, though the council says costs were covered by its recently established tourism company, which features Cllr Roberts and Cllr Kotz on its board.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: "It's ridiculous. You have to ask yourself why a leader of a council would have to go, because I'm sure he's got no technical expertise in this area.
"I'm also sure he's not going to pick up anything that's going to be put to use."
Cllr Roberts faced similar controversy last year when he went to Riga for a tall ships conference, spending £5,500 of taxpayers' money.
Mr Kasab said: "To be quite frank about it, in these days of email and Skype, the idea that he has to travel to France or Riga to pick up the information is an utter fallacy. It's just another jolly."
Cllr Roberts' recently-updated register of interests does not include the Tall Ships visits, but, alongside a dinner with lobbyists Bell Pottinger, lists foreign trips to a Hertha Berlin football match in July 2011, two nights in Ancient Olympia last summer and a global sports conference in Stockholm last September.
A Greenwich Council spokesman said: "A delegation agreed to attend the Toulon Regatta on behalf of the local destination management company to understand how the event worked, to assess the impact on the local area and to learn how host cities manage and co-ordinate the events.
"It also provided the delegation with the opportunity to make direct contact with the owners and captains of Tall Ships in order to encourage them to attend our regatta next year.
"It is recommended by Sail Training International that host ports attend races and Regattas in order to understand the work they need to undertake to deliver a successful event."
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