A Scottish Borders councillor has questioned why it was necessary for leader David Parker and three senior council officers to attend an IT exhibition in Barcelona.
The reason given for the trip was that Scottish Borders Council is about to start working more closely with housing and health partners in the region, requiring a new IT strategy for the Borders.
Councillor Gavin Logan’s concern is the cost of the trip for four people at a time of relative austerity when it comes to council spending.
Responding to Councillor Logan’s question, Councillor Parker replied: “This is an annual event and is widely regarded as one of the world’s most important gatherings of chief information officers and senior executives from the public and private sectors.
“It is absolutely critical to the council’s business and the transformation agenda including integration with NHS and wider community planning partners. It is also a key priority for the Scottish Government as outlined in its key strategy document ‘Scotland’s Digital Future’ which this council must respond to.
“I and the other delegates attended a range of sessions, had the opportunity to engage with over 125 solution providers and met with a number of senior consultants and executives from Gartner to assist the council in taking forward a new IT strategy which will come before members in the new year.
“The specific session focusing on this in Barcelona would have cost several thousands of pounds had it been arranged by the council in the Borders and therefore the cost of attending the event, compared to the information, knowledge and contacts gained, was value for money.
“As leader of the council I attend very few conferences and events and have not gone abroad on council business since 2005.
“I very carefully consider whether there is a business case to attend such events and on this occasion I was satisfied that this was a worthwhile conference to be involved with.”