EYEBROWS have been raised that a Powys County Council (PCC) cabinet member has been allowed to continue in his role, despite spending the next two months in New Zealand.

Conservative councillor for Gwernyfed and portfolio holder for Communication, Corporate Governance, Housing and Public Protection, James Evans is over 11,000 miles away and 13 hours ahead of Wales.

His communication skills to keep abreast of his portfolio from the other side of the world will be tested.

His trip is funded partly as a he received  £800 as the main winner of the National Farming Union's Gareth Raw Rees Memorial Travel Scholarship.

He is there for a two months to deer farming and venison production.

Some councillors in the ruling and Conservative group, believe he should have relinquished his  cabinet role while in New Zealand.

Members of the cabinet receive an extra £15,700 on top of a councillors basic salary of £13,600.

Cllr Evans told the Local Democracy Service: "Well, as you can see I am responding to my emails and I had Skype meetings with officers and talking to them on the telephone as well.

"I am keeping up to date with all of my cabinet papers and keeping abreast with what’s occurring in Powys. That’s the joy of modern technology!

"Members and staff can work in flexible manner from any location which is encouraged throughout the council.

"I have had the blessing and support from the Leader of Powys (Cllr Rosemarie Harris) who is dealing with any urgent matters which require a hands on approach.

Cllr Evans responded to the criticism: "I think it’s a real shame  that some Conservative Councillors, and others, are criticising me for going to New Zealand.

"Maybe some of them should focus on what they are doing, rather than using my trip as an opportunity to try and further their own political ambitions.

"Perhaps they should focus on the platform which they stood for rather than political point scoring.

"My trip to New Zealand is not a relaxing beach holiday, but I am in fact here learning about deer farming techniques, which I can relay back to the farming communities in Powys in order for them to be able to diversify and develop their businesses if they so wish."

Cllr Evans also pointed out that during the last 18 month he has not taken any time off and that even included when he got married last summer.