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Tax-payers' money used to fly council leader to Cannes for property show

James Hockaday

Tax-payers’ money has been used to send the leader of Slough Borough Council (SBC) to the French Riviera for an international property show.

Cllr Sohail Munawar (Lab, Elliman) and Simon Hall, the council’s economic growth and enterprise manager, have jetted out to Cannes for the annual MIPIM event.

According to a council spokesman, £7,000 was spent on economy flights and standard rooms for the two men.

In a statement, Cllr Munawar defended the trip, calling it a ‘unique opportunity to showcase Slough’s potential’.

He added: “We can’t take our eye off the ball for a second and must continue to attract investment to help us deliver the priorities of local people.

“That’s the very reason dozens of UK councils attend MIPIM and why we need to be there telling people why they should choose Slough over anywhere else.”

At the time of writing, the council was yet to confirm which hotel the pair were staying in but said it is ‘close to the conference venue’.

The show, which started on Tuesday and is due to finish today (Friday), sees thousands of architects, developers and investors from dozens of countries converge on the famous resort.

It is hosted at the waterfront Palais des Festivals, one of the main screening venues for the town’s famous film festival.

But the deputy leader of Slough’s Conservative Group, Cllr Rayman Bains (Con, Upton), described the trip as a ‘jolly’.

He said Slough already enjoys plenty of property investments.

“Slough is now globally renowned as a property hotspot. You don’t need to do any more marketing,” he said.

“If Slough was Swindon then I would understand, probably not at those costs, why you would want to drum up business.

“People are coming to the town so we don’t need to go to them.”

A Slough Borough Council spokesman said: “Investment is key for the council to provide services in the future.

“This is the biggest and one of the best investment events in the whole property market.”

When questioned on whether the council could expect a return from the £7,000 spent, she said: “It’s almost impossible to quantify an exact return on investment.”

She added £7,000 is not a lot of money out of the council’s overall budget of £110m and said it is ‘not a lot to go to something that prestigious’.


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