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Poll: Should Belfast council spend £80k for French Riviera investment trip?

By Cate McCurry

Belfast council wants an additional £20k to fund a £80k trip to the French Riviera, it emerged last night.

At a meeting of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, the council voted through a request for an extra £20,000 for the 2019 trip to one of the world's biggest property expos, MIPIM which is held in Cannes.

The council has asked the current investment be increased to pay for a larger stand at the event.

Officers have also been requested to "scope out" options for re-positioning the Belfast stand to an area of higher footfall.

MIPIM is described as the "premier event" in the European real estate calendar where many of the world's investors, developers and funders from the private and public sectors gather to showcase investment opportunities.

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie, who voted against the request, said: “Sinn Fein is supportive of city council efforts to attract inward investment but we believe the proposal that was put before the monthly City Growth and Regeneration Committee meeting was both excessive and unnecessary.

“Belfast City Council’s existing allocation for this annual four-day trip to the French Riviera is more than sufficient and in my opinion, they shouldn’t have even put this proposal before the committee.

“All councillors and council officials have a responsibility to allocate council funds wisely and the additional £20,000 sought by the council simply can’t be justified.

“The party has voted against this proposal and we are disappointed that it was voted through by other parties.”

Belfast City Council in a statement said: "MIPIM is the prime event in the European real estate calendar for many of the world’s investors, developers and funders from both private and public sector. 

"Over 27,000 people attend the event in 2018 to examine investment and regeneration opportunities in cities across Europe.

"We are now planning for MIPIM 2019 and as part of this, took our proposal to increase the budget to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for discussion on April 11.

"The additional £20,000 funding sought for MIPIM 2019 is to take a larger and more strategic site – this will enable us to attract higher footfall, allowing us to host greater networking opportunities and other events to ensure Belfast participants are able to better highlight the city’s attractiveness for investors and property developers – creating an even greater return on investment.”

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