Council paid celebrities £42,000 for staff events

Barbara Windsor at a charity event in November. Photo: Lynn Enright

Tower Hamlets Council paid out £42,000 for celebrities to make guest appearances at staff events, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Barbara Windsor was paid £13,000 in November 2008 and former swimmer Sharron Davies received £7,500 in 2006 for attending staff award ceremonies.

The information was made available after Conservative councillor for Millwall, Zara Davis, submitted a freedom of information request.

Cllr Davis said: “The purpose of a council is to deliver the services that matter to residents, and to provide good value for money. Tower Hamlets has failed miserably on both of these counts.”

She added: “This is an absolute outrage. Taxpayers will be horrified that Tower Hamlets Council has blown tens of thousands of pounds on celebrities. The very fact that the council would blow its money on celebrities rather than invest in vital services just beggars belief.”

The information also reveals that Paralympian Dame Tanni- Grey Thompson received £7,500 in 2007, television presenter Ester Rantzen was paid £4,000 for attending a Children Workforce Development Conference in June, while former athlete Kriss Akabusi earned £3,000 for appearing at a Support Staff Conference.

Tower Hamlets council said that inviting celebrities was a tool to motivate staff but they have now stopped hiring well-known speakers.

A spokeswoman said: “Many public organisations use this technique as a non financial reward for staff and as such is not unusual.

“However given the financial constraints facing all public sector organisations we have discontinued this practice for our staff awards.”

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