Cost to public of star power

Barbara Boyd

Reporter:

Barbara Boyd

Email:

editor@outlooknews.co.uk

ALMOST £50,000 was shelled out by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to hire star power to headline its events.

The amount of ratepayers’ money spent on entertainers and well-known names over two-and-a-half years was revealed to The Outlook after a Freedom of Information request.

The highest fee of £3,600 went to designer Wayne Hemingway MBE who was a keynote speaker at the Regeneration Conference: Sharing Our Potential in Craigavon in February 2017.

Celebrity cook Jenny Bristow was paid £1,575 for giving a cookery demonstration at the ‘Bee Curious’ free family day out at Oxford Island back in May 2016.

Other well-known names included BBC weather presenter Barra Best (pictured) who was paid £400 for his role in St Patrick’s Festival and Q Radio DJ Gareth Stewart was paid £250 for compering Rathfriland’s cultural event in July.

Television figures, Paul Clark was paid £500 and Pamela Ballantine received £1000 for switching on Christmas tree lights in Portadown while Carolyn Stewart received £1000 for her role in Banbridge’s switch-on in 2017.

Defending the spend, a council spokesperson said it represents around 0.0001 per cent of the council’s annual budget across the time frame.

Meanwhile, DUP Councillor Paul Greenfield said hiring relevant speakers is important to provide “good quality” events.

SDLP Councillor Seamus Doyle said: “I would like to see more money spent on promoting the Banbridge district and more events put on in our council area.”

Full story and list of entertainer costs in this week's Outlook.

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