Prime Minister David Cameron ‘ill-informed’ over Sunderland junket claims'tel 07867812537'Kevin Beales of The Test Factory, 4/3/10.'tel 07867812537'Kevin Beales of The Test Factory, 4/3/10.
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DAVID Cameron has been challenged to visit Sunderland and see the reality of council-led “junkets” for himself.

City businessman Kevin Beales has written to the Prime Minister after he made a series of controversial comments during a recent visit to the region.

Mr Cameron labelled a Sunderland City Council-led trip to the U.S. “a junket” and “a party”.

Kevin Beales – managing director of Rainton Bridge software firm The Test Factory, which has twice paid to attend official council trips to Washington DC – wants the PM to see first-hand the success of software companies in the region and how such initiatives have played in that.

“I was disappointed with the Prime Minister’s comments, which seemed ill-informed and attacking exactly the kind of initiatives he purports to encourage,” said Mr Beales.

“I personally have no political bias, but believe The Test Factory is exactly the kind of business the government should be supporting, a fast-growing technical company, creating skilled jobs and opportunities in the heart of the North East.

“Software is a weightless industry, that can be started nearly anywhere.

“Nearly all our clients are based in the South East and overseas.

“We started in the region solely because of the support, and infrastructure being provided for business like ours in the North East and the availability of talented young graduates.

“At the council-owned eVolve Centre we are now in our fifth office as we continue to outgrow our facilities.”

He defended the trip Mr Cameron had derided as a junket.

“Over the last two years we have grown our business in the States, and today nearly half our revenue comes from the U.S. with global clients such as Microsoft.

“We plan to open an office later this year in Chicago, which will increase employment and opportunities for us in the North East.

“I appreciate we are in times where cuts are essential and inevitably money spent is scrutinised, but the Prime Minister has voiced his commitment to supporting private companies’ growth to create jobs and prosperity.

“I can’t think of many better examples of this than initiatives such as Software City.”

Another boss of a firm from the eVolve centre has criticised Mr Cameron’s remarks.

Jonathan Wells, managing director of teaching technology firm Guroo, has written to the PM to tell him he was wrong.

He said: “Sunderland Council may not be perfect, but they do try and invest in the future and do the right things.

“Sunderland Software City is a big plus point for example.”