Council Flight Spend Scrutinised

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Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council have spent over £53,500 on 152 flights flying councillors and staff around the world between May 2017 and May 2019.

Council Spend
 Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council£53,669.46
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council£27,517.19
Derry and Strabane District Council£24,564.51
 Antrim and Newtownabbey £15,744.59
Ards and North Down District Council £11,359.68
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council £10,147.88
Mid Ulster District Council£9,183.65

Total amount spent on flights by each council from 01/05/2017 to 02/05/2019

In information released under Freedom of Information, the council spent £53,669.46 on trips including China, Atlanta and Malaga. That was just under double that of the next highest council in the same time period with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council coming in second with £27,617.19. 

Derry and Strabane District Council came in third with a spend of £24,564.51 followed by Ards and North Down District Council who spent £11,359,68 on 30 flights within the last two years of the previous mandate.  

Of all the councils to release the information, Mid Ulster District Council spend the least with £9,183.65 on 41 flights while Fermanagh and Omagh spent £10,147.88 on 31 flights and Antrim and Newtonabbey spent £15,744.59 on 36 flights.

While Belfast City Council refused to release the amount that they spent, they told us that they took 322 flights between 1stMay 2017 and 2nd May 2019. 

Council Total Number of Flights
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough CouncilUnknown 
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Unknown 
Newry, Mourne and Down District CouncilUnknown 
Belfast City Council 322
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council152
Derry City and Strabane District Council79
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council55
Mid Ulster District Council41
Antrim and Newtonabbey Borough Council36
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council31
Ards and North Down District Council30

Total number of flights taken by each council between 01/05/2017 and 02/05/2019

Sinn Féin Councillor Ryan Carlin, who represents the Castlereagh South DEA has expressed his concern at the expenditure describing it as “a total disregard for ratepayers”.

“As well as the obvious environmental impact, this raises some serious questions on how the previous DUP majority council was run, and will no doubt be alarming to ratepayers who rightly expect the highest levels of governance and value for money from our council.”

Cllr Ryan Carlin

He continued, “I have already written to the chief executive to ask that these figures be immediately reviewed and appropriate work is done to significantly reduced them in the interest of our ratepayers. It is important we always work in their behalf and this council provides them with the greatest value possible for their rates.”

At the time of writing, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council have yet to reply to our request for information despite legislation requiring them to issue a response within 20 working days.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have refused to release any information in relation to the number of flights that councillors and officers have taken citing an unreasonable cost in obtaining the information whilst Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have stated that they do not believe that it is within the public interest to release the information. Both of these cases are currently under appeal. 

We approached representatives from the DUP, UUP, SDLP and Alliance for comment but at the time of publishing we have yet to receive a response. 

Hannah McSorley
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