COUNCILLORS have split over a decision to send three council officers from Mid & East Antrim Borough Council to the Institute of Directors NI Annual Dinner next February in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Belfast.
The main December monthly meeting of the Council heard the Chief Executive Anne Donaghy and two other members of the management team will attend after 24 councillors were in favour, with twelve against and one abstention.
The cost is £90 each plus VAT.
Carrickfergus Ulster Unionist councillor Robin Stewart asked: “What does this bring to us? £90 a head plus VAT is quite expensive”
Anne Donaghy replied: “It’s called networking” and said the senior officers in the Council had to get connected at business level.
She said the number of conferences they attended was limited and said the dinner was important in terms of meeting the right people.
She added: “It would be about getting there to get networked”.
Cllr Stewart said he wished to remind the Chief Executive that he was a director himself and knew what networking was about “but I don’t think it’s important to the tune of £90 plus VAT per head”.
Glarryford TUV Cllr Timothy Gaston felt the council’s directors should be well enough connected that “we don’t have to pay to go to a dinner”.
Ballymena SDLP Cllr Declan O’Loan said he could not see the benefit for the Council and when the Chief Executive confirmed to him she was a member of the Institute of Directors the councillor said he was surprised that had not been declared.
Larne DUP councillor Gregg McKeen said: “I think we should be out there putting Mid & East Antrim Council on the map to try and generate and create new ideas”.
He added: “It would be very short-sighted and unprofessional if we did not give the opportunity for three to attend this dinner”.
Larne DUP councillor Cllr Paul Reid said: “You cannot mine coal unless you go to the pit face. It is paramount that we get out and about and let people know that Mid and East Antrim is open and that we are open for business”.