THE cost of a trip to Paris by York’s council leader and chief executive has been challenged by a senior opposition councillor.

Liberal Democrat Coun Nigel Ayre claimed Coun James Alexander and chief executive Kersten England incurred travel and hotel costs of £800 for an overnight stay before last month’s announcement of the Tour De France route through Yorkshire in 2014, but the council said the cost was actually £675.

Coun Ayre also claimed other Yorkshire council leaders and chief executives arrived in Paris the next day, with all travel costs covered by Welcome To Yorkshire.

However, the council said other councillors and chief executives from across the region also travelled the day before.

Coun Ayre said: “I think it is time for a full investigation into this and other cabinet expenses.”

Coun Alexander said he believed that speaking on behalf of York to the world’s media was in the city’s interest. He said: “I would be criticised by the Liberal Democrats for not attending such events when Harrogate and North Yorkshire were both represented.”

The council said in a statement that Coun Alexander and Mrs England had worked from their hotel on arrival in Paris, and met other Yorkshire delegates to prepare for a briefing ahead of an 8.30am press conference the next day, before travelling back with Welcome To Yorkshire.

The statement said Mrs England represented the region and Coun Alexander the city, and both spoke to international media and the British Ambassador and the department of UK Trade and Industry in France about promoting York businesses to French markets.

Peter Kay, chairman of York Economic Partnership, said the cost was nothing compared to the economic benefits for York citizens in years to come.