A decision by Gateshead Council's all-Labour cabinet to pay a visit to Northern Ireland has been attacked by opposition Liberal Democrat councillors.
9 of the 10 cabinet members and 9 senior officers are to make the 2 day visit in March to look at regeneration schemes in Belfast, paid for by Gateshead Council Tax payers.
Council Leader, Councillor Mick Henry, said: "Belfast's regeneration story is similar to the north east in many ways, with an industrialised ship building and port area which has been redeveloped, complete with a new concert halls complex.
"As we look to see how we will develop Gateshead over the next 20 years we wanted to see what lessons we could learn from an area like Belfast, which has reinvented itself in the past decade and now attracts 6.5 million visitors a year who bring £285 million into the local economy."
But Whickham Lib Dem Councillor, Dr Jonathan Wallace, said, "Whilst I can see some gains for Gateshead in a small group travelling to other areas to learn from them, I can't see the need for 9 out of 10 of the cabinet members and so many senior officers to make this trip.
"Surely this is something that can be done by a smaller group of people.
"In addition, Mick Henry says that the regeneration of Belfast is similar to that on Tyneside. That begs the question, why make the visit if there is nothing new to be learnt that can be applied to Gateshead?"