From what I’ve heard about business trips to China, rather than being a junket, they end up more like the bushtucker trial on I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!
Chicken feet, fried pig intestines and bird saliva soup are just some of the Chinese ‘delicacies’ that can end up on the menu.
And, in China, it’s seen as an insult to turn your nose up at offerings from your host.
The gourmet delights enjoyed by Sunderland City Council representatives on a recent trip to Harbin were, however, not at the top of concerns for Lib-Dems and other opposition councillors.
They wanted to know if they - and the taxpayer - are getting value for money when council representatives head off on business trips abroad.
An unidentified member of the public was rather more blunt, saying: “Does the leader think spending £16,000 to jet off to China gives the right impression of his caring for the community he is meant to serve while cutting vital public services?”
The message was to the point, even if the maths was a little awry. The trip cost £3,030.
When times are tight every penny spent needs to be accounted for.
Lib Dem councillor Niall Hodson may have got short shrift from Labour, but he has every right to challenge the spend and the council has duty to make public the benefits. So far more than 4,000 jobs have been secured from overseas in our community in the last five years. Long may it continue.
We need to reach out to the international business community and do deals in person that benefit Sunderland ... even if the cost for some is as hard to swallow as a bowl of chicken feet!