MP hits out at Centro for wasting taxpayers' cash

Stourbridge News: MP Gavin Williamson MP Gavin Williamson

ANGRY South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson has launched a scathing attack on West Midlands transport authority Centro for wasting taxpayers' money.

He accused Centro officials of living the high life while many of his constituents struggled to meet the cost of daily bus travel.

Mr Williamson revealed that Centro has squandered a total of £85,583 of taxpayer's money over the past five years by exhibiting at party conferences.

He added: "Their actions have been utterly bonkers. They should be investing in public transport instead of enjoying themselves on jollies."

Figures discovered by Mr Williamson as a result of a freedom of information request showed Centro had spent £19,672 in 2013 alone.

Of that total, £9,388 was spent on renting stands, another £1,270 on furniture and publicity materials, a further £6,550 on staff accommodation and general expense claims plus £855 on entertaining and another £1,609 on transport to and from venues.

Mr Williamson hit out by claiming: "You can stay at Travelodge for as little as £29 a night. That would equate to one night's stay for 225 members of staff.

"I struggle to see why Centro would need that many employees attending conferences in a single year.

"Centro are not meant to be running an operation to provide junkets for themselves on the taxpayers' expense.

"Attending party conferences will not impact on the allocation of government funds. These decisions are made by departments after studying all relevant proposals and reviewing each region's requirements.

"Centro's time would be better spent concentrating on the job in hand and putting together viable transport programmes.

Centro claimed: "Attending party conferences is we believe, an important way of raising awareness and gathering support for investment in West Midlands transport and for national projects such as HS2.

"They provide a rare opportunity for us to meet with and present our case to Prime Ministers and other party leaders."

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