Council says spending up to £12.5,000 on trip to Cannes ‘worth every penny’

Council leaders today defended spending up to £12,500 on a trip to a property event on the French Riviera – saying it’s ‘worth every penny’. Staffordshire County Council sent five officers to Mipim in Cannes earlier this month to mobilize private sector support for a range of regeneration projects.

The authority has set aside a maximum of £12,500 of public money for the trip – but council leaders hope private sector sponsorship will cover some or all of the costs. The council is currently unable to say how many sponsorships have been obtained.

This year’s Mipim conference brought together around 3,800 exhibiting companies from 100 countries, including investors and developers. County Council used the event to launch Staffordshire’s new investment prospectus, which includes over £1bn of ‘business investment opportunities’ with the potential to create 12,000 jobs and 15 000 new homes.

READ: Council defends ‘pretty’ French Riviera – as families grapple with cost of living crisis

Three council officers attended the full four-day event, while two others attended part of it. The advice says the officers flew to Cannes on “routine” flights with a “no frills” operator.

Councilor Philip White, deputy head of the council and cabinet member for economics and skills, said: ‘The council is setting aside a maximum of £12,500 for this event in case private sector sponsorship does not cover all of our costs and this event is worth every penny. We invest hundreds of millions of pounds in Staffordshire’s business, digital and education infrastructure so that new and existing employers can thrive and thrive here, with a skilled workforce nearby.

Chatterley Valley West was one of the regeneration programs featured at Mipim

“There is absolutely no point in making this investment for the future unless we talk to the decision makers of the company and that is where these investors come together. For example, a first contact with a company during the event has now led to a multi-million pound environmental business, housing and leisure project in Staffordshire and a high-tech energy innovation partnership with one of our world-class universities.

Regeneration schemes in the prospectus include Chatterley Valley West, part of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, which has a gross development value of £83m. Other projects include Eastgate in Stafford; the Ryecroft development of Newcastle; and the Keele University Science and Innovation Park.

Opposition Labor leader Charlotte Atkins called on the authority to provide evidence that visits to Mipim were worthwhile.

She said: “We need a cost-benefit analysis of this visit to Mipm and all previous visits. How can the council justify spending up to £12,500 on this when we are seeing cuts in care, jobs and everything else? Just because it’s something we’ve always done in the past doesn’t mean we should keep doing it.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council also attended the Mipim conference, with two councilors and three officers forming part of the Make it Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire delegation. The town hall claims that the entire cost of his trip was covered by the sponsorship of a private company.

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