Nottingham and Leicester councils' spending criticised

A council which spent £4,450 on a Christmas tree and another authority that spent "£10.3m on consultants" have been criticised by a pressure group.

The Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) said it wanted to stop "wasteful and inefficient spending".

Nottingham City Council said the tree was part-funded by sponsors four years ago and a "one-off".

Leicester City Council said the consultancy figures were "out of date or inaccurate".

The group, set up by Conservative members to campaigns for lower taxes, claimed the Labour-led Leicester City Council also spent £6,000 on hiring minor celebrities to appear at council events.

Andy Silvester, TPA campaign manager, said: "The local authorities need to think about ways to cut down on this waste and divert these precious resources to the really essential services or to leave the money in people's pockets.

"For too long taxpayers' money has been spent with impunity, with little accountability and not enough transparency."

A Leicester City Council spokesman said: "In 2010/11 we did pay more than £10m for a wide range of external professional services which we don't provide in-house, such as barristers, architects and designers.

"Only about £1.5m of that was for consultancy work.

"The celebrities we hired for £6,000 were for eight separate functions."

The Labour-led Nottingham City Council said: "The Christmas tree was part-funded by sponsors and attracted hundreds of Christmas presents for the city's children in need that year.

"It was a one-off in the first year at Loxley House four years ago."

The authority added that in the same year it had saved £150m and was "focused on continuing to deliver services efficiently" at a time of ongoing government cuts.

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