COUNCIL bosses have moved to defend a large bill for hotel and conference facilities.

More than £180,000 was spent in the past 10 months.

Latest figures released by Flintshire Council revealed that between April 2009 and February 2010 a total of £180,776 was spent on hiring meeting rooms at venues across the county, including £62,172 at the Beaufort Park Hotel and £67,898 at the Holiday Inn on the A55.

Flint councillor Ian Roberts first raised the issue back in 2008 when it was revealed almost £300,000 was spent in two years and now Cllr Roberts says he is disappointed to see the figures are not falling.

He told the Leader: “I have been pursuing this matter for some considerable time now and I am particularly keen to see this sum of money come down and it is slightly down from what it was last year, but in reality we are not at the end of the financial year yet.

“Given the financial problems we are hearing about to spend £180,000 on hotels and conference costs is very worrying.”

Cllr Roberts said meetings should be held at County Hall in a bid to drive costs down.

But Cllr Klaus Armstrong-Braun came to the defence of the council, claiming County Hall does not have sufficient facilities to hold the meetings.

He said: “We have to use outside venues because in the main you can’t get a room for meetings at County Hall.

"There is a six-month waiting list for council staff themselves, but the main reason is we don’t have decent facilities – the acoustics are no good and the rooms are cold.”

The council’s chief executive Colin Everett added: “Where the council chooses to use external venues to host large events such as consultations, workshops, professional training, public inquiries and presentations the venues chosen provide the right surroundings, facilities and value for money.

"The venues shown in these figures are not lavish. They include local hotels with basic catering.

“More extensive use is being made of council owned venues including Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Greenfield Business Centre and Flint Pavilion and we are seeking to develop council facilities to manage more training and other events in-house.”