"They are just taking the mickey" - Gravesham residents speak out after £15,500 council Orlando theme park trip is announced
PUBLISHED: 13:57 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:23 31 March 2014
Gravesham Council's three-day visit to Orlando in the US has caused an outcry from the public.
Five councillors and four council officers will fly 4,369 miles to Florida to assess the impact Disney World, Universal Studios and Island of Adventure - all tourist parks - have on the surrounding community.
The trip is being organised by developers London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) as the council prepares for the arrival of the £2billion Paramount theme park in Swanscombe in 2018.
The public, though, have reacted angrily to the news of the £15,441 trip, which was announced on Tuesday (25).
John Melhuish, of Meopham, said: “It is a total disgrace.
“Our council tax has risen by nearly 2 per cent in each of the last two years and is set to do the same in the coming year.
“This is nothing more than a jolly at the expense the hard working people of our borough.”
Valerie Walton, of Gravesend, enquired if the council had thought about looking closer to home for this kind of information.
She said: “They are just taking the mickey. If they want to know what its like in Orlando, enough people have been there to tell them what it is like.”
Bridget Small, of Denton Court Road, Gravesend, added: “They should be ashamed of themselves.”
When the news was announced, Gravesham council leader Cllr Burden defended the visit by insisting it was necessary of the council to examine issues fully.
He said: “The programme for this visit is extremely busy being packed with serious business discussions which should provide invaluable insights into the issues surrounding the development of a truly global attraction on our doorstep.
“It is entirely right that the council examines all these issues fully and we are grateful to London Resort Company Holdings for facilitating these meetings with key people and communities which have had direct experience of facing and overcoming those challenges.”
A council spokesman also added: “The visit is not about looking at the theme park but about understanding the impact that it has on the wider area surrounding it so that we can ensure that any planning permission granted addresses the issues that will affect the lives of all those who live and work in Gravesham.
“We expect the costs of the visit to be recovered from a sum to be paid by the developer to the council as part of the planning process.“
What do you think of the three-day trip? Call 0208 477 3825 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your thoughts.