Don’t leave our rates in San Franciso: UKIP

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UKIP wishes the Mayor Elisha McCallion well on her trip to the San Francisco Bay area to develop greater economic, investment and educational links but insists Council must prove the mission is value for money and not wasteful spending.

Party spokesman Kyle Thompson said: “In these austere times public bodies must ensure, more so than ever, that they provide value for money. “Too often taxpayers’ money is spent wastefully on vanity projects and other unnecessary expenses. The North West is in dire need of investment if it is to prosper.

“We must develop and support indigenous businesses, attract foreign direct investment, provide relevant education and training opportunities and promote this region at every opportunity.

“I wish the Mayor well in her trip to California and hope that the trip bears fruit in the future.”

The Mayor is leading a Council delegation to Berkeley this week.

Accompanying the Mayor on the trip will be representatives from the Ulster University and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Over the four days the delegation will meet with a series of existing and potential investors with the support of Invest Northern Ireland and other key contacts in the Bay Area.

During her visit, the Mayor will also present the Book of Condolence from the people of Londonderry and Strabane to the Irish Emigration and Pastoral Centre on behalf of the families of the Berkeley balcony victims.

The group will also meet with the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, to discuss the benefits of the two cities developing a sister city arrangement and establishing formal links to develop economic, tourism and educational links.

She said: “Berkeley and Derry have very close connections and they are both very similar in terms of their history and outlook. My four day visit will be a chance for me to further build on the links we have already established, particularly during Council’s previous visit during the Clipper Race international activation in 2014. I hope to further develop those links and connections that will benefit us in terms of opportunities for investment, education and culture. Berkeley, like Derry and the wider North West region, is known throughout the world for its promotion of civil rights and the work it has done to promote equality. We have close links to its university and the two cities have much in common in terms of our history and we are hopeful that this visit will bring about positive results for both cities.”

The Mayor said she was pleased to be afforded the opportunity to present the Books of Condolence the city to the families of those bereaved in the terrible tragedy in June when five Irish students on summer visas died when the balcony they were standing on collapsed.

“I will be passing on the condolences of the people of Derry and Strabane to Kevin Byrne of the Irish Consulate and Fr Brendan McBride, who hails from Co. Donegal, when I meet with them during my visit. It is important that the victims’ families know they have the sympathy and support of the people of this region, following their tragic loss,” she added.

Mr Thompson said: “Some may question the need for this trip, given the advanced communication techniques available to council. It is important that the council is able to prove that this trip will be value for money and not wasteful spending.”