Council reverses decision to spend £10,000 on sponsorship of business climate conference

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BELFAST City Council has reversed its decision to spend £10,000 on sponsorship of a business climate conference – an expense described as a ‘vanity investment’.

At the Board’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, members narrowly agreed to pay the money, after a vote saw a People Before Profit proposal not to pay the bill fail. Nine councilors from the DUP and the Alliance voted to pay the £10,000, while eight from Sinn Féin, SDLP, Green Party and People Before Profit voted against.

Council officials recommended that the committee approve the financial contribution to the management and leadership network that hosts the major climate-related business conference, called the Sustain Exchange. The total cost of the conference, which is taking place at Titanic Belfast this week, will exceed £60,000.

At Tuesday’s monthly full board meeting, an amendment from People Before Profit successfully reversed the committee’s decision.

People Before Profit adviser Fiona Ferguson said afterwards: ‘I am pleased and relieved that the council tonight overturned a committee decision to spend £10,000 on vanity investment to mark a conference with the logo of the advice. The Council’s participation in this conference was not conditional on payment, making the costs entirely unnecessary, except for publicity.

“These are incredibly difficult times for many in our communities, as the cost of living crisis continues largely unabated. At the same time, threats of another rate hike are being touted, as well than discussions of tight budgets in the years to come.In this context, a £10,000 branding exercise would have been totally unnecessarily exorbitant.

“If we have to keep talking about tough decisions, those can come at the expense of the council’s brand.”

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