Conservatives on Coventry City Council have raised concerns about plans to send three Labour Councillors to attend a ‘peace forum’ in Russia at the end of October. The proposal is expected to be rubber stamped by Labour cabinet members at a meeting on Tuesday 2nd October.
Taxpayers are being asked to fund the extravagant trip to Volgograd which is expected to cost in excess of £2000. Upon arrival the councillors will also be treated to a lavish hospitality package by Russian officials.
According to the Council the City of Volgograd has invited Coventry to participate in the event, organised by the United Nations. Councillors are expected to give a presentation on the role of local authorities in peace making and discuss ways to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the city’s twinning arrangements with Coventry.
As a twin city officials from each city often meet however Conservative councillors are seeking to clarify how residents in Coventry will benefit from this trip. At a cost of more than £2000, equivalent to a family holiday for most Coventrians, they’ve questioned why three councillors need to attend.
Many people may also be surprised at the timing of the visit which comes amid a period of significant tension between the UK and the Russian state. This follows the alleged murder of a British citizen in Salisbury by the Russian security services using a nerve agent. Despite international condemnation and the deteriorating state of relations between the two countries the Russian flag is still regularly flown from the Council's headquarters.
Commenting on the visit Cllr Gary Ridley who is the Leader of the Conservatives on Coventry City Council said; “Coventry is the city of peace and reconciliation so it’s right that we aim to be a globally well connected city and I support anything which attracts investment. However, it’s difficult to see how this proposal represents value for money and I really don’t understand why three Labour councillors need to go. We’re constantly told by this failing Labour administration that there’s no money to fund essential services so many people will wonder if this trip is necessary at all. That’s why Labour politicians need to explain to the people of Coventry why they’re being asked to fund the hefty cost of this lavish trip and set out what they can expect in return.”