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Budget-conscious SNP members on West Lothian Council objected to spending Pounds 1,260 on sending a Labour member and officer to Denmark to study sport and out-of-school care at the end of this month.

They were also less than impressed that a senior Labour man travelled with some West Lothian youngsters to the special Olympic games in Portsmouth in July. "I would like to know what Councillor Owens did in Portsmouth," the SNP's Peter Johnston asked.

He represented the council effectively, replied education convener Ross Martin as he accused Johnston of "pathetic posturing".

Another accusation of outrageously frivolous expenditure involved a conference on "interactive learning in a digital world", attendance at which is to cost council tax payers Pounds 395. "You could buy an awful lot of books for Pounds 395," the SNP's Eddie Malcolm said. That trip was from Bathgate to Riccarton incidentally.

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