1) How many people were accommodated at the Old Swan? 11
2) For How long were they accommodated at the Old Swan? 3 nights
3) What was the reason for staying at the Old Swan? LGA conference 30 June 2009-02 July 2009
4) What mix of officers/councillors were accommodated. Chief Executive and 6 officers, Leader of the Council and 3 Councillors.
5) Was the payment for anything other than accommodation? Payment was for bed and breakfast.
The response raises a number of questions,
Why did CWaC Council send 11 members and officers to the conference especially since the registration rate per delegate alone was £519 plus £77.85 VAT – total £596.85? Please note – the delegate registration fee does not include bedroom accommodation costs.
Why did they spend 3 nights at the Old Swan when the conference only lasted 3 days which would have only required 2 nights accommodation?
Why did they pay more than double the cheapest available accommodation rates available?To me it looks more like a swan out to the Old Swan at taxpayer's expense!
I have submitted another freedom of information request to clarify the amount spent on the registration fee. I have also asked a number of other councils how many people they sent to the conference because 11 appears to be far more than necessary.
UPDATE 29th June 2011: Response to my FOI request "Further to your enquiry about the registration fee for attendance at the 2009 LGA conference/exhibition I can confirm that the registration fee only applied to the Chief Executive, Leader and Councillors as officers attended as exhibitors. The registration fee was £596.85 per delegate (inclusive of VAT). Total registration fee was therefore £2984.25."
Therefore, the cost so far identified are £2878.50 accommodation cost plus £2984.25 registration fee = a total of £5862.75 plus travel costs for 11 people plus the wages for 18 officer days (6 officers * 3 days).
UPDATE 2 13th July 2011: Just had a response to a similar Freedom of Information request I sent to another council for comparison. Suffolk County Council sent 6 people to the same conference, 1 officer and 5 members. Other councils to follow.