Councils say they always look at the cheapest option when booking flights after research found authorities across the country were spending tens of thousands on plane tickets.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) sought figures from councils across the country, asking what travel costs they have charged to the public purse over a three year period.
We only use flights when this is the cheapest option available and we never use business class.Hartlepool Borough Council
In Hartlepool’s case, it has paid £1,290 for three European flights and one beyond.
The amount is minor compared to the average spend per council, which stands at £29,152 between January 1 2015 and February this year.
In total, £6,792,000 was spent by councils across England, Wales and Scotland.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We only use flights when this is the cheapest option available and we never use business class.”
Durham County Council spent £29,765 on 71 flights across Europe and three to destinations elsewhere in the world.
John Hewitt, corporate director of resources, said: “We are always cautious about travel expenses and try to avoid such costs wherever possible.
“Although we do not book flights regularly, in some circumstances they are the most appropriate and cost-effective way to travel.
“Many of these flights were paid for by third parties including through EU funding, and we do all we can to get the best possible rates at the time of booking.”
No details were available from the TPA in regards to where the flights were from or to or their dates, although its Freedom of Information request sought the details.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TPA said: “For many families, council tax is the largest monthly bill to pay, and it’s shocking that their hard earned money is being misspent by some local authorities in this way.
“These local authorities need to find millions in savings in the coming years and with modern technology like video conferencing they needn’t spend large sums of taxpayers’ money on plane tickets.”