OLDHAM Council has been slammed for spending around £10,000 sending two officials on a “French Seaside Spree”.
OMBC’s Head of Regeneration and Development plus Director of Economy and Skills were in Cannes – home of the internationally renowned film festival – to attend a property conference.
The Marché International des Professionnels d’Immobilier (MIPIM), which is described as the world’s leading property market, took place on the French Riviera between March 13-16.
Now, Cllr Howard Sykes, OMBC’s Leader of the Opposition, says the money could have been better spent on repairing pot holes or child care.
“I am not suggesting that this simply amounted to three days of sunshine and champagne,” said Councillor Sykes.
“I am sure these officers were also meeting with potential investors in Oldham.
“But many residents in our borough who are struggling to pay their Council Tax bills will rightly ask why this money could not have been spent on fixing potholes on our crumbling roads or providing care for our vulnerable children or elderly citizens rather than on jet travel and hotel bills for staff going to the French Riviera.”
Defending its decision to spend the money a spokesperson for OMBC said: “Oldham Council’s delegation went specifically to promote the Oldham Town Centre Masterplan face-to-face with potential investment and development partners ahead of the launch of a procurement exercise in June.
“This is the most important strategic project in Oldham’s history.
“The benefits would be the provision of new homes, 55,000 sq metres of new and refurbished employment space and economic activity worth an additional £50m per annum to Oldham’s economy.
“Oldham was one of dozens of councils at the event and more than half of the Greater Manchester authorities also attended.”
The total bill to attend the Marché International des Professionnels d’Immobilier (MIPIM) conference was £9,592.20 plus VAT.
The figure included £6,500 as registration for the event, flights costing £1,052 and £850 for accommodation.
* Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that Oldham has more than doubled the number of business start-ups from just under 50 per 10,000 working age population to nearly 105 since 2012.
Oldham now has the fourth largest business start-up rate in Greater Manchester, behind Bury, Manchester and Trafford. This is significantly higher than the North West average of 93 per 10,000 working age population and the UK average of 100.