Town halls in £750,000 star splurge
Town halls have forked out more than £750,000 on booking celebrities to appear at events, according to new figures.
More than 348 councils spent a total of £753,013 on acquiring the services of stars for events including concerts, competitions and Christmas lights switch-ons last year, Freedom of Information (FoI) requests by the Sun newspaper revealed.
Former Westlife singer Kian Egan was paid £26,800 to perform by Armagh Council, while the Happy Mondays were paid £25,000 by Coventry City Council, which spent £93,750 in total on its annual Godiva Festival.
The paper also said TV chef Ainsley Harriott picked up £10,750 from the London borough of Tower Hamlets for judging a curry competition, 70s band Sister Sledge were paid £18,000 to perform by the London borough of Waltham Forest and St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council, in Merseyside, spent £10,000 on getting the Lightning Seeds to turn the area's Christmas lights on.
The total figure could be higher as 79 councils did not respond to the FoI requests, the Sun reported.
Andy Silvester of the Taxpayers' Alliance told the paper: "You couldn't make it up. The deficit must be cut, and that means councils waging war on wasteful spending like this."
The Local Government Association (LGA) said last week councils had seen a "40% real terms reduction in funding" since 2010 and urged the Government to ensure authorities were "adequately funded" with long-term cash allocations.