Bid to make Lord Provost take train to Euros voted down

Thursday May 30th 2024


An attempt to get Edinburgh’s Lord Provost to take the train to Germany for a taxpayer-funded trip to watch Scotland play in the Euros instead of flying has been voted down by councillors.

Green and SNP members in the City Chambers backed a call for Provost Robert Aldridge to travel on the Eurostar to Munich next month to reduce the environmental impact of his journey.

The council said travelling by train “would require a 15-hour journey with three transfers” and “would incur a requirement for two additional overnight stays alongside accommodation and subsidence costs over and above an air travel equivalent”.

Cllr Aldridge’s three-day trip will cost the taxpayer £1,400 for flights and accommodation. It comes following an invitation from the Mayor of Munich to attend the opening ceremony of the 2024 UEFA European Football Championships and opening fixture on June 14 as a ‘special guest’.

The Lord Provost will also take part in events planned to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh and Munich’s twinning arrangements.

Council policy states that councillors and officials travelling by air should consider alternative, less-polluting forms of travel.

As plans for the visit were put before the policy and sustainability committee for approval on Tuesday Green councillors tabled an amendment in a bid to force the city’s civic leader to take the train instead.

Council leader Cammy Day said this would “add a few days and additional costs that add time for the Lord Provost,” adding this was “one of the exceptions” where it was more appropriate to fly.

However Green councillor Claire Miller said online advice on inter-city train travel in Europe proved it was a “straight-forward journey to Munich”.

She said: “You take the Eurostar to Paris, a short 10-minute walk to change stations and there is a modern, high-speed train that goes direct to Munich from there.

“And the train is equipped with power sockets for laptops and mobiles at all seats in both classes.

“So it is possible to work while travelling very efficiently, and because overland sustainable transport is so convenient it is inarguable for me in the current climate, ha ha, that we should not be travelling this way.”

The Greens amendment was defeated by nine votes to seven, with SNP councillors supporting it and Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem councillors voting against it.

Aldridge said: “I’m very much looking forward to visiting our sister city of Munich and ­celebrating the 70th anniversary of our twinning arrangement, the oldest relationship of its kind. To be able to cheer on the Scotland national team in their opening game at the Allianz Arena is a great privilege for me and I have no doubt that the Tartan Army will be in full voice.”

A report said: “It is recommended that air travel is appropriate for this visit as a means to minimise travel time and costs. In this case it is planned that the Lord Provost and supporting officer will travel as a party alongside other partner organisations including Scottish Government, Visit Scotland, and FCDO.”

A separate report to the committee showed that 202 flights were taken by council staff in 2022/23, with 60 of these for domestic travel within the UK.

The council’s associated travel emissions, 34 squared tonnes of CO2 equivalent, is more than double that recorded by the council the previous year in 2021/22.

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