Birmingham City Council spent £ 21,454.27 on overseas travel between January 1 and March 31, 2022. A total of six visits to Pakistan, France, the UAE, Italy and Belgium incurred the costs, with almost £ 10,000 spent on flights alone.
Total travel expenditure for the financial year running from April 2021 to March 2022 is now at £ 23,388.38. A total of £ 0 was incurred during the same period between 2020 and 2021, coinciding with Covid-19 lockdowns, while the previous year saw £ 30,629.61 spent. Years before that have generally seen a higher expenditure on overseas travel than this year.
The most expensive trip of this financial year was a visit by Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr Brigid Jones and Council Chief Executive Deborah Cadman, along with two council officers, to Cannes in France. The trip took place from March 15 and March 18, 2022, and cost £ 9,916.30 in total. £ 3,248.08 was spent on flights and £ 2,546.55 on accommodation.
READ MORE: Digbeth bar wants to play live music until 3.30am sparking concerns at nearby hostel
The visit’s purpose was to attend MIPIM Cannes, one of the world leading real estate events that includes exhibitions and networking sessions. Birmingham delegates were there to ‘engage with international developers’ and to ‘promote investment opportunities’.
When asked about the price of the flights, a Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We always seek to ensure the best value possible when organizing travel for members and officers. In the example cited, economy class flights were used and prices do fluctuate depending on seasonal demand, which can be linked to events taking place in the destination area.
As stated in the council report, this visit related to the MIPIM event during which the council was part of a wider regional delegation that engaged with international property developers and investors in order to create and deliver employment opportunities that will improve the lives of people in all parts of Birmingham. This included showcasing the Three Cities Retrofit initiative to improve housing in the city. ”
A further £ 9,796.67 was spent on a visit by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Muhammad Afzal, the Lady Mayoress, and one officer to Islamabad, Lahore and Mirpur in Pakistan between February 24 and March 4, 2022. The flights cost £ 6,000, while accommodation and transportation costs came to £ 3,178.54. Covid-19 tests also added £ 309.
The purpose of the trip was for the Lord Mayor to attend the inauguration of the Pakistan chapter of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce and to promote trade opportunities between the UK and Pakistan. A council document says that the Birmingham Mirpur Friendship Agreement was also renewed during this visit.
The Pakistan and Cannes trips together make up almost 85 per cent of total spending on overseas travel from April 2021 to March 2022.
Other trips the council made this financial year include a 3-day visit to Brussels by Cllr Brigid Jones, Cllr Fred Grindrod and one officer in early March. Councillors were there to see how the Brussels Office of the Birmingham Strategic Alliance had been getting on. The party traveled by Eurostar and the trip cost a total of £ 1,678.14.
Another was a six-day visit to the UAE as part of the Commonwealth Games Business and Tourism Program, undertaken by Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward and Chief Executive Deborah Cadman. The total cost for this trip was just £ 63.16 as flights and accommodation were met by the West Midlands Growth Company.
SURVEY: How will you save money amid the cost of living crisis?