COUNCILLORS billed taxpayers for conferences, away days and travel to the Huddersfield Giants Challenge Cup final.
New figures show the 69 members of Kirklees Council received £1.1m last year in wages and expenses.
Councillors claimed for hotel stays at party conferences and outside facilitators for political away days.
A senior councillor yesterday called for Kirklees to stop paying party conference costs in the light of the public spending squeeze.
The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, outline all payments to councillors from April, 2008, until this November.
They show that Kirklees leader Clr Mehboob Khan billed the taxpayer £154.58 for travel and £8 for subsistence after attending the Challenge Cup final between Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves at Wembley in August, 2009.
The Greenhead Labour man defended the claim yesterday.
“I accepted the invitation from the Rugby Football League in my capacity as leader of the council,” he said.
“The mayor also attended, and I kept my costs down by travelling standard class by train and returning on the same day.”
Clr Khan added: “The final was a great opportunity to promote Huddersfield and attract new investment.”
Clr Julie Stewart-Turner, who was Mayor of Kirklees at the time of the match, has made no claim for attending the final.
The figures show Labour, Liberal Democrats, Conservative and Green councillors claimed for attending their party conferences.
Green leader Clr Andrew Cooper charged the taxpayer £43.10 for travel and £56 for subsistence for his party’s annual meeting in Brighton in September.
The Newsome man said yesterday: “The council pays for travel and the cost of accommodation is split 50/50 between myself and the council, that’s the rule at the moment.”
But Clr Cooper believes the regulations should be tightened given that Kirklees is in the middle of cost-cutting programme which will lead to 1,700 job losses.
“I think we should cancel funding for party conferences,” he said.
“There are going to be some difficult decisions ahead, but scrapping this funding is quite a straightforward one.”
In September, 2009, six Lib Dem councillors claimed a total of £1,189 after attending their party conference in Bournemouth.
Lib Dem leader Clr Kath Pinnock defended the spending yesterday.
“National party conferences are a cost-effective way of getting policy information,” she said.
“Conferences are opportunities for politicians to meet policy-makers.
“We brought six councillors to the conference because of the different features of the council’s work.”
The figures also show that Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors have charged the taxpayer for away days.
Sixteen of the 20 Lib Dems on Kirklees received £14.04 each after attending a get-together in Cleckheaton in October.
Clr Pinnock said: “The money claimed paid for coffee, tea and a light snack to allow us to work through from 9.30am to 3.30pm.”
The Cleckheaton Lib Dem added that away days were useful for Kirklees.
“I would say the meeting in October was council business – it was about how we’re going to provide services with much reduced budgets,” she said.
Conservative leader Clr Robert Light also defended away days yesterday.
Thirteen of the council’s 19 Tory councillors claimed £28.72 each after attending a Conservative get-together in September.
Clr Light said: “We use our away days to thrash out policy. Ask any of our members – they are hard days.
“The money we claimed paid for room hire and outside facilitators from the Improvement and Development Agency.”
The records show the 69 Kirklees councillors claimed £11,509 for travel and £4,330 for subsistence in 2009/10.
In the same year, councillors were paid a monthly salary of £1,047 each, with many members also receiving a special responsibilities allowance for their extra duties.
Overall, the taxpayer forked out £1.16m in wages and expenses to councillors in 2009/10.
From April to November this year, Kirklees paid councillors £6,832 for travel and £2,404 for subsistence.
In 2008/09 councillors claimed £11,817 for travel and £5,944 for subsistence.
A Kirklees spokeswoman explained the rules for councillors’ claims.
She said: “Expenses claims need to be made in writing within two months of the cost being incurred. Tickets or receipts must always accompany travel and subsistence claims for more than £8. Each claim is treated on its own merits and officers carry out routine checks when processing claims.
“Robust processes mitigate against any false claims – unintentional or otherwise.
“Kirklees, like all local authorities, has an Independent Review Panel which recommends the level of allowances councillors should receive.”
For more information on councillors’ allowances and expenses visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/answers/memberallowance/memberallowance.shtml