Heart Investigates: Thames Valley Councils Spend Thousands On Foreign Trips

19 November 2013, 06:07 | Updated: 19 November 2013, 08:34

Heart's got hold of figures showing councils in the Thames Valley have spent nearly £35,000 on 79 foreign trips in the last two years.

Heart's got hold of figures showing councils in the Thames Valley have spent nearly £35,000 on 79 foreign trips in the last two years. 

It's been funded by a mixture of EU money and council budgets - with destinations including Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Portugal.

 Hampshire County Council spent the most at £16,458.20, funding 35 trips abroad for councillors and officers, Buckinghamshire County Council came second - with 17 foreign trips and a spend of £5070.39 with the figures revealed in a Freedom of Information Request sent by Heart

Councils say the trips are a way of attracting investment from abroad and learning from other local authorities around the world. A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council explained why the trips have been taken: "The County Council's active involvement in international affairs has led to an enormous potential for sharing expertise, knowledge and experience, which has influenced the development of policy internally and in Europe for the benefit of Hampshire people. 

"International work and membership to such bodies adds value to the County Council's corporate priorities and service, to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of Hampshire. 

Not all councils took foreign trips though - South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Wokingham Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Council and Test Valley Borough Council all reported none of their officers or councillors had taken trips abroad, funded by the council. 

Here's the figures showing how many foreign trips councils in the Thames Valley took during the financial years 2011/2012 and 2012/2013: 1. Hampshire County Council: 35 trips, costing £16,458.20 

2. Buckinghamshire District Council: 17 trips, costing a total of £5,070.39 

3. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council: 14 trips - costing £10,670 (of which £9,106.12 was EU funding) 

4. Reading Borough Council: four trips - costing £759.56 

5. Cherwell District Council: Two trips, costing the council £412.44 

6. Aylesbury Vale District Council: one trip costing £811 

7. Oxfordshire County Council: two trips - at no cost to the council 

8. West Berkshire Council: two trips, at no cost to the council 

Wokingham Borough Council - none 

Bracknell Forest Council - none 

Test Valley Borough Council - none 

South Oxfordshire District Council - none 

Vale of White Horse District Council - none 

Oxford City Council - no response 

West Oxfordshire District Council - no response