Somerset County Council credit card spending published

Details of Somerset County Council's credit card spending over the past five years have been published on the authority's website.

They show that almost £5m, excluding school spending, was spent in about 50,000 transactions in the county.

Payments made include £19.95 to The Mad Hatter, and £34.98 to The Feather Factory.

A card was also used to book a £12,294 trip to China for children at Street Children's Centre.

A council spokesman said the pupils had raised the money upfront, but the card was used to pay the travel company.

'Armchair auditors'

Kevin Nacey, the council's service director of finance, said each of the council's 699 card holders was issued with "very strict guidelines" on their use.

He said that using credit cards cut down on bureaucracy, and was cost-efficient.

Ken Maddock, leader of the authority, said: "We know that a small percentage of the transactions need further investigation, and we are taking action where those are concerned.

"We will also be interested to hear from any of our residents acting as 'armchair auditors' who look through these figures and believe they can spot ways to make us more efficient or to save money."

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