However, Cllr. Long believes that the tree may have finally served some purpose, as it allowed him to highlight his concerns about the amount of cash spent on Councillors’ trips at the time. Since the original story broke a number of years ago, the amount spent by Councillors on Conferences, trips and travel expenses has plummeted according to figures released under Freedom of Information to Cllr. Long.
Cllr. Long said, “Yet again the so-called reusable tree is standing unused in the Council grounds for a fifth year. It has proved to be a huge waste of money for ratepayers but I am glad to reveal that it may actually have provided some benefit in that the Alliance campaign about the trip has resulted in a huge cut in money spent on trips and conferences by Councillors.
“During the year I highlighted the trip £63468.87 was spent on junkets whilst in the 7 years following the issue the average spent per year on such trips has fallen to an average of £13666.15- a huge difference of almost £50,000 a year or around £350000 over the past 7 years. It is clear that after this incident Councillors looked a little more closely at whether they really needed to go on all of these trips and discovered that maybe some were not that beneficial after all!
“Bizarrely, this unused, unloved tree may actually have been one of the best Christmas presents ratepayers have had because the Alliance campaign to highlight the wasted money has resulted in savings of £50,000 a year.”
More information on the Christmas tree:
Alliance highlighted issue in 1999 and again when first not used in 2002
Spending on Conferences& Courses/Official Courtesy Visits
1999/00 £63468.87 year of trip to Italy- year highlighted trip
Total £95663.08 2000-07
Difference £49802.72 X 7=£348619.04