URBAN councillors agreed yesterday to economise on a $1 million study trip to North America after heated exchanges. They agreed 10 councillors - rather than 13 - should make the trip and they would travel economy rather than business class, cutting costs by more than $200,000. At the Urban Council Standing Committee meeting yesterday, the Democratic Party described the trip as badly timed and too expensive. Democrat Lai Hok-lim said: 'How can we justify to the public this vast expense when the economic situation is so dreadful? I do not think the public would approve.' He stressed his party agreed with the principle of study trips to other countries because they helped to foster working relationships. 'What we oppose is the timing, the cost and the number of members involved,' Mr Lai said. The 11 Democrats tried to block the trip but were defeated by 22 votes to 12. Christopher Chung Shu-kun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong accused the Democratic Party of playing politics. 'What they are saying is absolute nonsense because they did not voice these opinions at previous meetings,' he said. 'They have changed their stance just because there are a lot of reporters here.' The chairman of the working group on Urban Council overseas visits, Ada Wong Ying-kay, defended the tour and said experience of other countries would help councillors improve Hong Kong's services. The study trip is to examine arts and cultural facilities, information technology, the provision of user-friendly services and managing film archives.