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GLASGOW DOESN'T HAVE ROYAL PALACE BUT IT HAS GOT ME; Big-spending Liz says she is city's answer to Holyrood.

Byline: By Steven Ventura

GLOBETROTTING Lord Provost Liz Cameron yesterday insisted she was Glasgow's answer to Holyrood.

Cameron, under fire over a pounds 60,000 junkets bill run up in nine months, claimed she had to sell the city to potential visitors - because it didn't have Edinburgh's historic attractions.

Cameron, 54, who took up the post in 2003, said yesterday: "Nobody can promote Glasgow by simply sitting behind a desk.

"All lord provosts have been great ambassadors in recent years at selling the city to overseas investors and tourists.

"Glasgow does not have a royal palace or a new parliament building to promote it, but it does have me.

"I use my talents as a speaker of three foreign languages to directly engage with people of power and substance across the globe.

"If I wasn't doing this, I would be rightly criticised for failing in my duty as lord provost."

It was revealed yesterday that the senior councillor had spent pounds 59,409 on travel for herself, her secretary and a council officer.

They flew business class to seven foreign locations and stayed in expensive hotels.

But yesterday, despite outrage from opposition councillors and council tax payers, Cameron said she was not going to make any apology.

The globetrotting councillor and her officials spent more than pounds 17,000 when they attended New York's Tartan Day celebrations last April.

The 10-day visit, which also took in Chicago, saw her put up at the Crowne Plaza at the United Nations Hotel, where the cheapest rooms at that time of the year start at pounds 158 a night.

Council bosses give Cameron, 54, a daily allowance of pounds 235 to pay for accommodation and meals.

By contrast, her Edinburgh counterpart Lesley Hinds and her delegation spent pounds 3899 at the event, flying economy class.

Aberdeen Lord Provost John Reynolds's bill for the same US celebration was pounds 1921.

Cameron also spent pounds 3918 during a trip to Sri Lanka. The total cost of the visit - arranged so the lord provost could see how aid was being spent in the tsunami-hit region - was pounds 11,898.

Despite Glasgow having the highest council tax rate in Scotland, the lord provost defended her spending.

She added: "Every trip requires the approval of the council and the members will only give authority if they consider the best interests of Glasgow are being met."

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 17, 2006
Words:402
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