BARNSLEY Council and Barnsley Hospital have spent thousands on first-class rail tickets for staff despite the squeeze on public spending.

The council has had a 'no first-class rail tickets' policy for eight years but a Freedom of Information Act revealed the authority spent more than £1,700 on some 30 single first-class rail tickets in 2011/12.

All the tickets were advance-booked and were bought at a reduced price but one first-class journey by the chief executive and the executive officer cost £138 per head.

It was also revealed Barnsley Hospital had spent £4,067 on 46 first-class trips for staff in 2011/12 and almost half weren't booked in advance, so the highest prices were paid.

MP Dan Jarvis, said: "The reality is you can work more effectively in first class. A judgement needs to be made that the extra benefit of working more efficiently in first class is worth the extra cost of the ticket."