LOCAL authorities are often angry when journalists whack in a FoI request and publish the results that come back without asking for any context. So after asking for a list of hotel bookings made by cost-cutting Barnet Council last year, I had to check whether it had really placed deputy/interim chief executive Andrew Travers in the £195 a night Hotel du Vin in Birmingham for the LGA Annual Conference last summer.
There were hardly any bookings, but this was what jumped out of the list:
Andrew Travers – Interim Chief Executive (then Deputy Chief Executive)
Hotel du Vin, Birmingham (attending LGA Annual Conference 2012)
One night only: 27 June 2012
The du Vin is branded as five star luxury in the refurbished Birmingham Eye Hospital. Very nice it looks too. But the council’s press office kindly looked into this and quickly found that the stay WAS NOT paid for by the council (just booked by it) and Mr Travers had commendably paid the bill himself. So, my enquiries had revealed nothing about public spending on expensive hotels. No job as an investigative journalist on the Sunday broadsheets for me.
And it’s not for me to wonder how many senior staff at other local authorities would pay for their own hotels when out of town at work conferences, nor how high up the council pay scale you might have to go before booking the Hotel Du Vin out of your own wallet.