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Rebel against the outrageous demands on the public purse

I wonder if anyone else is as disgusted as I am at the ridiculously high costs being demanded curr-ently for conference fees in the education sector.

I am in receipt of notices of three such events whose costs for one day range from about pound;264 to pound;351 and, for two days, from pound;264 (excludes cost of overnight accommodation) to pound;581 (again with no overnight accommodation). These costs are for public sector applicants, but costs to the private sector are increased by about 25 per cent.

Up till now similar events run by such bodies as the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities or the Local Government Information Unit have been priced around pound;90 to pound;100 and have provided as good a range of speakers, including Scottish ministers, as the heavily over- priced ones. My other complaint is that they all seem to be in Edinburgh.

I wonder if it's because a well known London-based conference promoter with a Scottish name had discovered that such events might provide a lucrative addition to their income, or maybe they've been found out charging too much south of the border.

The most intriguing is a wo-day conference entitled "Holyrood Explained . . . Understanding Scottish Government." It has 19 speakers including my old acquaintance Bob Cuddihy (who doesn't get a mention in the blurb), and ex-colleague Ross Martin who is described as director of the Scottish Forum for Modern Government. This organisation seems to liaise with the London company in the production of other conferences in the capital, all of which all of a sudden are bloody expensive, Well, in spite of the fact that I firmly believe that when a minister is to address a conference every council should be represented, although good sense will prevail for the one mentioned above, and no minister is listed, I now have serious doubts about asking my council to cough up the kind of costs being demanded.

It gets worse. They have the outrageous impudence to ask for anything up to pound;125 for a copy of the conference papers if you cannot attend.

Come on gals and guys, I call on you to rebel against these over the top prices . . . and for Edinburgh, too.

Charles Gray Convener, Education Committee North Lanarkshire Council

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