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Video conferencing slashes expenses claimed by councillors

Embracing business video conferencing has helped councillors in the Highlands cut their expenses by over £60,000 last year, according to the Press and Journal.

According to recently released figures, Dr Michael Foxley, leader of the council’s administration, claimed over £8,500 for travel. He explained that the council is embracing the technology to eliminate unnecessary travel: “We are increasing our use of telephone and video conferencing. I do that about once a week, whereas even just three of four years ago it was a rare event. It does save travel. It’s about watching every pound that is spent by councillors and limiting travel to the essential.”

John Laing, the transport, environmental and community services chairman, cut his expenses bill by over £3,000 compared to last year. “I think I am the most travelled councillor as there is 125 miles between my front door and the council’s headquarters,” he said. “We are making a lot more use of video conferencing, which I also sometimes use for meetings for my area. I am delighted that the expenses are down.”

Almost £219,000 was claimed for travel expenses by Highland councillors in 2009-2010. The total amount claimed was £322,509 for the year. Expenses from the previous year totalled £386,272. That’s a reduction of over £63,000 in one year.