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The French Riviera is usually dripping with A-list celebrities who sip cocktails as they party on superyachts in the Mediterranean sunshine.

And last week, thousands of men in suits spilled into Cannes to enjoy a taste of that lifestyle at an enormous property conference, complete with glamorous soirees and free-flowing champagne.

But alongside them, claiming to have been seeking investment, were dozens of delegates from Britain’s cash-starved councils.

More than 60 ‘shameless’ officials and civil servants spent four days at the Mipim conference, where attendees were treated to unlimited drinks and a buffet of tempura king prawns and foie gras on the extravagant opening night.

One council spent £100,000 of taxpayer cash on Mipim. It put up nine staff in a luxury four-star hotel and hosted a cocktail reception

One council spent £100,000 of taxpayer cash on Mipim. It put up nine staff in a luxury four-star hotel and hosted a cocktail reception

One council spent £100,000 of taxpayer cash on Mipim. It put up nine staff in a luxury four-star hotel and hosted a cocktail reception

One council spent £100,000 of taxpayer cash on Mipim. It put up nine staff in a luxury four-star hotel and hosted a cocktail reception.

Last night, critics lambasted councils and government officials for a ‘reprehensible’ misuse of taxpayers’ cash.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) flew out 20 staff including their own barista, who served up free oat milk flat whites on a beachside terrace as officials promoted investment in the UK. Meanwhile, families across Britain face potentially devastating council tax rises of up to 3 per cent during what could be the biggest cost of living crisis in decades.

Patrick Sullivan, head of the Parliament Street think-tank, said: ‘With rising inflation and the cost of living crisis soaring, council funds should be directed to assist the needy and the vulnerable, instead of fuelling the lavish lifestyles of shameless town hall bosses.’ Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said the use of taxpayer cash was ‘reprehensible’, adding: ‘This has all the trappings of a jolly.’

Staff from at least 19 councils were among the 23,000 delegates at the world’s biggest property event. Registration fees alone cost up to £1,670 each. While some local authorities were funded by private sponsors, several used public cash to fly chiefs out.

Dudley Council spent £100,000 sending nine representatives – including £176,000-per-year chief executive Kevin O’Keefe.

Officials spent four nights at a four-star Radisson Blue that boasts a rooftop pool. The council also hosted a cocktail reception for potential investors

Officials spent four nights at a four-star Radisson Blue that boasts a rooftop pool. The council also hosted a cocktail reception for potential investors

Officials spent four nights at a four-star Radisson Blue that boasts a rooftop pool. The council also hosted a cocktail reception for potential investors

Officials spent four nights at a four-star Radisson Blue that boasts a rooftop pool. The council also hosted a cocktail reception for potential investors.

Other local authorities using public cash to send over their staff include Wolverhampton and Leeds. They would not clarify the total cost. Staffordshire Council set aside £12,500 to send five officials while Leicestershire spent £3,000 sending two delegates. Government officials were also sent to Cannes, where civil servants enjoyed morning swims in the sea and 7am runs along the Croisette, the city’s beachside promenade.

The DIT would not clarify how much cash it had spent on the event, but in previous years its bill ran to £46,000.

Mipim, which was founded in 1990 and is run by data group RX, previously had a ‘boys’ club’ reputation, with some delegates openly soliciting prostitutes, which is entirely legal in France.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) flew out 20 staff including their own barista, who served up free oat milk flat whites on a beachside terrace as officials promoted investment in the UK

The Department for International Trade (DIT) flew out 20 staff including their own barista, who served up free oat milk flat whites on a beachside terrace as officials promoted investment in the UK

The Department for International Trade (DIT) flew out 20 staff including their own barista, who served up free oat milk flat whites on a beachside terrace as officials promoted investment in the UK

Harry Fone, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Millions of households are struggling to make ends meet every month. This gross misuse of their money is truly contemptuous.’ But Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said it was ‘already actively pursuing very warm leads with a string of investors [from Mipim] which could lead to as much as £500million of investment coming to the borough’.

Wolverhampton said it had ‘generated millions of pounds worth of investment for the city thanks to Mipim’, while Leeds City Council said it considers events carefully to ensure they bring ‘real benefits’.

Philip White, of Staffordshire County Council, said the event is ‘worth every penny’ and meeting a firm at a previous Mipim conference led to a multi-million pound development at a university.

DIT said 20 representatives were sent because the department acts as a hub for the regions unable to attend independently. It said some of the passes were free and the decision to send the barista was made by the UK firm contracted to supply coffee and tea.

A Government spokesman said: ‘Attending the world’s biggest international property trade show lets us promote UK opportunities to top investors from around the world. This investment creates jobs, increases housing opportunities and brings prosperity to every part of the country.’

Source: Daily Mail

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