Daily Mail Newspaper
- November 2009
A whistleblower revealed how a council- which is trying to shed 465 jobs- spent £28,000 putting up teachers at a hotel spa resort.
The whistleblower retained their anonymity and was well paid for the story.
We sold the story to the Daily Mail newspaper as an exclusive..
Four-poster beds, spa, golf course... the £30,000 break for headteachers in cash-strapped county
DAILY MAIL NEWSPAPER
It's a council that's trying to shed 465 jobs in an effort to save cash. It has also imposed an above-inflation increase on its taxpayers.
However, officials at Derby City Council still managed to find £28,000 so 85 headteachers could have a get-together at a luxurious health spa.
The state school heads enjoyed overnight accommodation, a drinks reception and a dinner in the restaurant at the Hoar Cross Hall resort. The former stately home has a golf course, rooms with four-poster beds, a champagne bar and offers a wide choice of spa treatments.
Get-together: The headteachers enjoy a bonding exercise at the Hoar Cross health spa, which cost taxpayers £28,000
Derby City Council organised the conference, with each head's school budget funding his or her stay. The bill came to around £330 each.
The council even booked the Royal Suite, which offers two separate bedrooms, both with spa baths, a lounge, three private balconies overlooking the grounds, one of which has an outdoor hot tub, and a private sauna.
In total, 85 state school head teachers and six speakers stayed at Hoar Cross Hall. Seventy-seven stayed overnight.
The council had invited almost 200, but many opted to economise with their school budget and turned down the invitation.
A source with links to the spa said: 'The heads lived it up for two days, with free drinks and luxury spa treatments. They tried to trim down the event a bit after getting bad publicity last year, but the council still opted for a world-class hotel.
'Taxpayers and parents of schoolchildren will be angry in the knowledge that the funds could have been much better spent.'
Mark Wallace, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, added: 'This is an utterly indulgent location. It's particularly absurd given that the council owns plenty of facilities itself.
'When local taxpayers are struggling in the recession and schoolchildren are still not meeting the required standards, there are far higher priorities for our money.'
Derby City Council imposed a 3.25 per cent council tax increase this year, above the rate of inflation. It is also trying to get rid of 465 jobs.
A spokesman defended the extravagant location, saying council-owned buildings would have been inadequate.
He said: 'This was a training and development event, not a conference. It gave headteachers the chance to share good practice and improve pupils' achievements.
'Hoar Cross was the nearest place without too much travelling. It was the cheapest viable option. If anyone-chose to use spa facilities that weren't included in the cost of the room, they had to do so with their own money.'
The annual conference was held at the same venue last year, when 104 heads racked up a £35,000 bill.
Alison Woodhouse, headmistress of St Peter's Junior School, in Derby, attended the conference.
She said: 'If you take teachers to a rubbish place to learn, they are not relaxed. We are only human after all. I didn't go to the spa but I left the conference feeling re-energised.'