Leeds nostalgia: Council in hot water over ‘freebie’ trip for 800 (in March 1989)

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This week in March 1989: Leeds City Council was submitted for a place in the Guinness Book of Records by one of its own councillors, after it was revealed it planned to spend £77,000 on sending more than 800 people to Dortmund.

Coun Peter Kersting (Ind, Pudsey South) said he had suggested the council be recommended for the record of ‘the most expensive trip abroad paid for by Leeds ratepayers.’

The YEP discovered that, among the 800 were members of Opera North, 12 councillors and local sports teams. The trip was to be for a week to mark the 20th anniversary of the Leeds-Dortmund twinning agreement.

Originally, the council set aside £50,000 for the trip but costs spiralled to £77,000.

The revelation led to Tory group leader Coun Andrew Carter to call for the scrapping of the twinning sub-committee.

Council leader Coun John Trickett said he was not prepared to spend the extra £27,000.

But Coun Kersting drove the point home, adding: “People are beginning to wake up to these trips and realise they are nothing more than freebies on he rates.” A Guinness Book of Records spokesman said they yet to receive any nomination.