Council defends £5,000 Japan trip for officers

The council has defended its decision to spend thousands of pounds sending officers on a trip to Japan while staff face redundancy.

Derbyshire County Council estimates it spent between £4,000 and £5,000 sending two officers from its economic regeneration department on a five–day trip to Toyota city in a bid to improve tourism links.

The officers joined representatives from Derby City Council, South Derbyshire District Council and Visit Peak District and Derbyshire in the visit, which took place at the end of September and cost a total of around £12,000.

The three authorities split the cost of the chief executive of Visit Peak and Derbyshire David James, after inviting him to attend.

The spend comes shortly after the county council revealed it would be making around 1,600 job cuts as it tries to make up for £157,000 in cuts to spending over five years.

A county council spokesman said: “The invitation to the Toyota Industry Festa was accepted following a Toyota city delegation visit to our Derbyshire Food and Drink Fair in May.

“Tourism plays a key role in the Derbyshire economy, already employing over 27,000 and bringing in £1.7billion of spend.

“Japan has been identified as a key market for us to grow visitor numbers to protect and create Derbyshire jobs, we’re targeting this opportunity with the new Japanese language section of the Visit Derbyshire website.

“The Toyota event gave direct exposure to 90,000 visitors and significant wider media coverage.

“The visit also has tremendous potential in our continued development of trade links to open new markets for Derbyshire businesses.”