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Derry council spent £50,000 for Jamie Cullum at jazz gig

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 04/08/2016

Jamie Cullum and his wife Sophie Dahl
Jamie Cullum and his wife Sophie Dahl
Paul Rankin

A council has come under fire for using £50,000 of ratepayers' money to bring jazz-pop singer Jamie Cullum to perform at a festival.

Derry and Strabane Council spent more hiring celebrities than every other council in Northern Ireland put together.

In the last year it splashed £58,000 on six famous names.

In total our 11 councils spent £90,000 hiring celebrities and well-known faces in that time.

These include:

  • £11,300 spent by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council hiring The Bay City Rollers.
  • £2,000 spent by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council hiring former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies.
  • £2,250 spent by Ards and North Down Borough Council hiring mind reader David Meade.
  • £600 spent by Belfast City Council hiring BBC Northern Ireland presenter Joel Taggart.
  • £300 spent by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council hiring DJ Stephen Clements.

TaxPayers' Alliance campaign manager Harry Davis said the money could be better spent.

"Council budgets remain tight and every penny they spend needs to be justified," he said.

"So when local authorities should be looking for savings and cutting out waste, it cannot be right that hard-pressed ratepayers' cash is going into the pockets of celebrities."

The biggest spend was £50,000 on Jamie Cullum, who headlined the City of Derry Jazz Festival in May 2015.

The council said the annual festival drew more than 40,000 people on average to venues across the district.

"Securing a strong headline act for the festival, such as the international artist Jamie Cullum, has proved to be extremely beneficial in terms of media value, generating widespread coverage of the event, and also in drawing new audiences to the festival," it said.

"This boosted the local economy by generating revenue for local businesses and driving hotel occupancy.

"So while the outline cost may seem high, the return on investment means good value has been achieved in terms of enhancing the profile of the district and attracting visitors to the region."

Derry and Strabane also spent £4,000 hiring chef Paul Rankin on two occasions.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council had the second highest bill, drafting in 18 celebrities at a total cost of more than £23,000.

Almost half (£11,300) of this was spent hiring The Bay City Rollers last June for the Festival Lough Erne.

A further £4,000 went towards hiring singers Kieran Goss and Frances Black for a performance in Omagh in February.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council spent £4,525 hiring four celebrities, including singer Malachi Cush and chef Jenny Bristow.

Belfast Telegraph

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