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Olympic jolly’ cost bosses £11k more than they let on

PUBLISHED: 18:37 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:35 25 August 2010

CRITICAL: Spencer Drury.

CRITICAL: Spencer Drury.

A COUNCIL'S delegation to the Beijing Olympic Games cost £11,000 more than they admitted, the Times can reveal.

A COUNCIL'S delegation to the Beijing Olympic Games cost £11,000 more than they admitted, the Times can reveal.

Greenwich council bosses told the Times in August they 'estimated' their six person trip cost £14,000 of taxpayers' money but a Freedom of Information request revealed the true cost to be a staggering £25,087.57.

Despite a council spokesman claiming they were staying as guests of Chongwen District, meaning that their accommodation costs and food would be met by their hosts, the figures have revealed that taxpayers had to foot the bill for an extension to the six-day trip.

Shelling out £15,026.60 for business class flights, taxpayers also funded £2,283 for accommodation, £4,889 in translation and interpretation fees and £479.91 on refreshments.

A further £328 was spent on gifts which included shortbread biscuits, books about Greenwich and small compasses.

They said they were keeping to the business protocol in China which is to give small gifts to all those attending

business meetings.

They also gave a replica of the Cutty Sark to their Chongwen hosts.

Their visas cost £520 and travel including taxis cost £499.90. The closing ceremony ticket was £100 and hotel information technology and photocopier costs came to £61.16.

Leader of the Opposition on Greenwich council Spencer Drury said: "According to the council, they were being treated as guests, but they had to pay £100 for the closing ceremony.

"They have not been exactly forthcoming about this trip. If they were more open, they might be able to defend themselves better.

"One of the Deputy Mayors for London flew out to the Olympics on an economy flight, with one of their staff who spoke Mandarin, which saved them money on interpretation fees.

"I can see the point of going, but it the amount of people they took which is the problem. Their delegation was bigger than most of the other boroughs."

The council also forked out £750 for half price membership for two councillors and the Chief Executive for London House, a facility with conference and communication services set up by the London Development Agency.

They also said they paid £150 for a 'pre-training camp' launch fee.

A council spokesperson said the reason why their estimation was off target was because some delegates had to stay longer than planned because the London Development Agency, Think London and the Mayor of London only announced details of a number of business events

in August.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk


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