Councils exposed spending thousands on “stars”

Council chiefs will no doubt start another round of bleating soon that they can’t afford to deal with Freedom of Information Act requests any more as the next round of Government cuts arrive.

Normally they claim they are besieged with pointless requests about how many toilet rolls they have used, are they making preparations for a zombie apocalypse and has the chief executive called in feng shui consultants in to harmonise their office.

Yet a great allrounder by the Sun exposes the power of Freedom of Information once again as a so-guerrilla audit, exposing councils’ waste.

Incredibly the paper estimates £753,000 has been spent by councils in the last year on paying celebrities for “appearances”. Some of the fees are quite extraordinary.

While campaigners have started a petition to get TV chef Ainsley Harriott on the back of a £20 note it is revealed the face of Ready Steady Cook was paid £10,750 by Tower Hamlets Council, in London, to judge a curry competition in the London borough.

Celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager got £11,400 after she agreed to formally open Watford’s new market, while Strictly’s Craig Revel-Horwood got just £2,000 for judging a kids talent show in Kent.

As a use of FoI for journalism it ticks all the boxes – exposes council waste AND has a celebrity link. Expect to see the piece resurface in years to come.

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Sun – 20/5/15

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