Derbyshire County Council (DCC) was unexpectedly thrown into the national spotlight last night after Nick Clegg suggested the authority was overstaffed live on TV.
The Deputy Prime Minister claimed the EU employed fewer people than the council during a BBC debate with UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
The remark resulted in thousands of internet users talking about DCC, causing it to trend on the social networking site Twitter.
Mr Clegg said: “The total size of the European democracy – this monstrous superstate that Nigel Farage talks about – is about exactly the same size as the number of people employed by DCC.
“The bureaucracy is no bigger than the people employed by DCC.”
Figures show DCC employs about 36,000 people while the European Commission has just over 33,000 workers.
Councillor Kevin Gillott, deputy leader of DCC, said: “I was surprised to hear Nick Clegg chose to mention DCC during last night’s debate on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
“The county council and European Union are totally different organisations, fulfilling very different roles. The comparison is unfortunate and I’m not sure what point he was trying to make by referring to Derbyshire in this way.
“More than half of county council employees work in our 400 schools. They are the teachers, teaching assistants and other school staff who work to give Derbyshire children the education they deserve.
“The remaining non-school staff equate to around 8,500 full time equivalent positions. The bulk of these provide vital front line services and include our home helps and school crossing patrol staff, the people who mend the county’s roads, work in our libraries or providing essential support for vulnerable children.
“Is the Deputy Prime Minister suggesting we employ too many of these types of staff in Derbyshire?”
On Twitter, @timothy_stanley said: “Clearly DCC employs far too many people.”
@redwineimbiber said: “I would suggest that Clegg knows very little about DCC. He probably thinks it’s in the south east somewhere!”
@christhedj1970 said: “Both organisations are bloated, overpaid, wasteful and screw money from hardworking people who have no choice in the matter!”
And @herders76 joked: “Well that was mildly interesting. I’m looking forward to next week’s debate regarding DCC.”
Wednesday’s debate was the second of two broadcast debates between the two party leaders. Mr Clegg told of the benefits of the UK’s involvement in the EU while Mr Farage argued that the country should leave the institution.