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A COUNCIL chief has defended a two-day "jolly"

Councillors' 'jolly' worth 164 bill, insists chief
By paul lewis

Source: South Wales Evening Post

A COUNCIL chief has defended a two-day "jolly" at a top hotel for Welsh local authorities.

The Consortium of Local Authorities in Wales, known as Claw, is hosting its spring gathering at the Marriott St Pierre Hotel and Country Club in Chepstow today and tomorrow.

Around 30 officers and councillors representing 13 Welsh councils are expected to attend.

Swansea Council has confirmed it will not be represented there. But Neath Port Talbot's head of regeneration Gareth Nutt, who is Claw's officer chairman, will be there — as will an unnamed Neath Port Talbot Cabinet member.

Although Claw will be paying for the facilities at the two-day conference, each individual council will be responsible for the cost of an overnight stay for each representative.

Mr Nutt pointed out the B&B charge was 82 a person, which meant it would cost Neath Port Talbot 164.

"From our point of view it is costeffective," he said. "As far as this council is concerned, we get far more out of the organisation than we put into it. There is a lot of collaborative work going on, work that we share and therefore do not duplicate.

"The advantages of attending are worth far more than the 164 it will cost for the overnight stay."

Peter Davies, a Conservative councillor in Newport, was invited but declined to attend, condemning it as a "great little jolly for local government staff and councillors to indulge and cheer themselves up at this gloomy economic time".

The conference includes a trip to a vineyard and wind turbine factory.

Mr Nutt said: "The meeting is one of the few occasions for authorities across Wales to meet and exchange ideas and best practice."

Carmarthenshire Council is sending an officer but no councillors. A spokesman said: "Claw is a very worthwhile organisation for us to be part of and we have been members for a number of years. It is of huge value to the work that we do and is a means for sharing opportunities."

paul.lewis@swwmedia.co.uk