Scottish councils and businesses pay thousands hiring celebrities

Sir Chris Hoy, Mark Wright and Tinchy Stryder Sir Chris Hoy appeared free and Mark Wright and Tinchy Stryder received payment

Related Stories

Councils and local businesses in Scotland spent at least £26,000 hiring celebrities for Christmas events.

Reality star Mark Wright was paid £7,000 to turn on the festive lights in Perth and received a further undisclosed fee for an event in Irvine.

However, the research by BBC Scotland found some big names were willing to give their services free, including Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.

Councils say booking celebrities attracts crowds and boosts the economy.

Start Quote

Looking at these statistics, we are very proud of the decisions we took to hire well-known artists that would attract people to the city centre”

End Quote Ian Miller Leader of Perth and Kinross Council

Wright, who appeared in the ITV2 programme The Only Way is Essex, was just one celebrity booked by Perth and Kinross Council.

The council hired pop band, Eric Faulkner's Bay City Rollers, at a cost of £2,995 and Britain's Got Talent finalists Luminites, who were paid £5,000.

Ian Miller, leader of Perth and Kinross Council, defended the sum of money saying the Christmas event on Saturday, 23 November, attracted thousands to the city.

He explained: "The figures really are astonishing when you look at them — about 90,000 people visited Perth on the Saturday. Footfall was up 73% on last year and on St John Street was up 206%.

"During the peak hour, which was 5pm to 6pm when the lights switch-on took place featuring Mark Wright, we had 26,000 people in the city centre.

"Looking at these statistics, we are very proud of the decisions we took to hire well-known artists that would attract people to the city centre."

However fellow Perth and Kinross Councillor John Flynn believed the expense of hiring a celebrity was not justified.

Fee or free?

  • Reality star Mark Wright was paid £7,000 to turn on the festive lights in Perth and received a further undisclosed fee for an event in Irvine.
  • Eric Faulkner's Bay City Rollers cost £2,995 to perform in Perth
  • Britain's Got Talent finalists Luminites were paid £5,000 for their Perth appearance.
  • R&B artist Tinchy Stryder and indie rock band The View picked up a fee totalling £11,000 to perform at an event in Paisley.
  • Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall received an undisclosed fee for an event in Ayr town centre.
  • Celtic manager Neil Lennon was the free star turn at Lennoxtown Primary school.
  • Comedian Sanjeev Kohli was paid only travel expenses to take part in the Milngavie switch on event.
  • Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy switched on the lights in Edinburgh without picking up a fee

He told BBC Scotland: "He may have pulled a few more people in but I think it would have been a successful day without Mark Wright.

"I do not think that a personality is as important as the event. I think it could have been anybody who switched on the lights and the people would have come irrespective of that."

In Paisley, local businesses spent £11,000 hiring R&B artist Tinchy Stryder and indie rock band The View to perform at the town's festive lights switch on.

Renfrewshire Council allocated £124,000 of the council's general budget to putting on the event in Paisley, as well as separate light switch-on events in Renfrew and Johnstone.

Former Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall appeared and performed at a light switch on event in Ayr town centre after the scheduled act, former X Factor winner Matt Cardle, was forced to pull out at the last minute.

However, Zisys Events, the production company hired by South Ayrshire Council to run the event, would not disclose how much McDowall or any of the other performers received.

A spokesman for the company explained it would not be comfortable revealing such commercially sensitive information.

Outline of family taking photo of Christmas tree Some Scottish councils have not spent any money on Christmas or Hogmanay events

Irvine Special Events Forum, a volunteer group funded by grants and donations which also engaged reality star Wright's services at its event, also refused to reveal how much he had been paid.

However, it said it was able to hire Wright because one of its committee members had struck "a special deal" with the reality star's agent.

Ian Clarkson, chairman of the forum and a North Ayrshire Councillor, said the celebrity's services helped to attract 10,000 people to the event in Irvine town centre.

He added: "It was only because the businesses came on board that we were able to have a celebrity. But seeing the way the crowd reacted to Mark Wright convinced me that it was worth while - this time."

Hoy 'honoured'

The BBC found that some big names were happy to help open Christmas events without a fee.

Lennoxtown Primary school's Parent Teacher Association secured the services of Celtic manager Neil Lennon free of charge and actor and comedian Sanjeev Kohli was paid only travel expenses to take part in the Milngavie switch on event run by the area's Business Improvement District.

Edinburgh Council also managed to make savings, with Olympic gold medallist, Sir Chris Hoy, agreeing to attend its £140,000 "Light Night" event, "purely for the honour of turning on the lights in his home town".

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Scotland stories

RSS

Referendum Live

  1.  
    Salmond on Today

    Following Alistair Darling's appearance earlier, First Minister Alex Salmond is currently speaking on Radio 4's Today programme.

    alex salmond

    Asked about further devolution offered in the event of a No vote, he tells presenter Jim Naughtie in Edinburgh: "These are the same package announced last spring - repackaged in desperation yesterday. They've been discounted by the Scottish people."

    He says Scotland will use the pound following a "Yes" vote, saying there will be a "common-sense agreement. You know it and I know it."

     
  2.  
    08:09: Coming up... Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    On Morning Call today on BBC Radio Scotland at 08:50: Have you changed your mind on how you're going to vote in the referendum?

    And we're inviting you to put forward your positive case for voting "Yes" or "No".

    Lines are open now - get in touch by calling 0500 92 95 00, texting 80295 or emailing morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk.

    Morning Call graphic
     
  3.  
    08:05: 'Human community'

    No supporter Elizabeth Fraser, 94, told Good Morning Scotland's Gary Robertson: "I think we are all a human family and I do not want a border between England and Scotland."

    Yes supporter Audrey Burt said: "I quite agree with everything Elizabeth said, we are part of the big human community, but I am voting for us to have the power over our own situation."

     
  4.  
    08:04: 'It's our country too'

    Asked if he would take up Alex Salmond's invitation to join "Team Scotland" in the event of a "Yes" vote, Mr Darling says: "He is not Team Scotland. We will all play our part because it's our country too - it's not his."

     
  5.  
    08:02: JD Sports: 'No major impact'

    JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill told this morning's Radio 4 Today programme the company does not think a "Yes" vote would have a "major impact" on trade.

    Asked if there was a danger prices would rise, he said: "No, not at all… we operate in Europe as well and it would be a similar process".

     
  6.  
    07:55: 'This will settle it'

    Asked on Radio 4 if a "No" vote would only hold back independence for a short time, Alistair Darling says: "No, because both sides are agreed. This is to settle the matter for a generation."

     
  7.  
    07:50: As others see us

    Professor Muriel Casals, president of the Catalan civic organisation Omnium Cultural, told Good Morning Scotland that people there were watching events in Scotland closely.

    She said: "Unfortunately for us the Spanish government is saying 'you don't have the right to go to the polls to say whatever you want'. We are campaigning for the right to go to the polls. It's wonderful for you that you are going."

    Catalan protesters

    Udo Seiwert-Fauti, a German journalist who works in Strasbourg, told the programme: "It's amazing how much interest Germans have. They realise what is going on here."

     
  8.  
    07:48: 'Tragedy' of break-up

    Mr Darling adds: "Over the last 300 years, we have all built the UK together. We have benefited from that strength that comes from acting together, pooling and sharing resources in good times and bad times and I think it would be a tragedy if the relationship were broken."

     
  9.  
    07:44: More Darling

    Mr Darling tells presenter Jim Naughtie: "What Alex Salmond doesn't tell you is that public spending is £1,200 more per head of population here than it is south of the border."

     
  10.  
    07:42: Darling on final push

    Better Together leader Alistair Darling is speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the final day of campaigning.

    alistair darling

    Mr Darling: "People going to the polls tomorrow will be in no doubt that you can have a stronger Scottish Parliament, with more powers and more responsibility to raise the money it spends.

    "And that means the health service - if you want to spend more money on it you can do it and it really doesn't matter what is happening in the rest of the UK."

     
  11.  
    07:37: Salmond plea to voters

    Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has written to voters urging them vote "Yes".

    In the letter, he asks voters to step back from the political arguments and trust in themselves as they go into the polling booth.

    The letter says: "The talking is nearly done. The campaigns will have had their say. What's left is just us - the people who live and work here. The only people with a vote. The people who matter.

    "The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands. It's the greatest most empowering moment any of us will ever have. Scotland's future - our country in our hands.

    "What to do? Only each of us knows that. For my part, I ask only this. Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience."

     
  12.  
    07:29: The view from Germany

    Lizbeth in Muir of Ord: Spoke to a German visitor yesterday he says "Angela Merkel says No but the folk say Yes ... you are very lucky, everyone in the world loves Scotland. We hope you say Yes."

     
  13.  
    07:15: Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    How others see us - #bbcgms gets the view from Germany and Catalonia 0715. #indyref

     
  14.  
    07:15: Kenneth Macdonald BBC Scotland Science Correspondent

    The organisers of the referendum count will use techniques from forensic and computing science to handle a record number - almost 790,000 - of postal votes.

    Polling card for Scottish referendum

    Counting staff are using scanners and advanced signature recognition software to make sure the person who posts in their vote is the same one who applied for it.

    The machines will not be set to reject ballots automatically - they would then be checked by humans.

     
  15.  
    07:03: The polls

    With just a day of campaigning left, the polls suggest the result of the referendum is still too close to call.

    Three new polls, one by Opinium for the Daily Telegraph, another by ICM for the Scotsman and a third by Survation for the Daily Mail, were published last night. With undecided voters excluded, they all suggested a lead for "No" of 52% to 48%.

    For more on the polls, go to our poll tracker on the Scotland Decides website.

    Poll tracker
     
  16.  
    06:56: On the campaign trail

    For Yes Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond kicks off his final day of campaigning with a visit to Hyspec Engineering in Stewarton, Ayrshire, to discuss jobs.

    For Better Together, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will be addressing events across the Highlands, including Kingussie, Inverness and Nairn, and Scottish Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale will join "No" campaigners at Haymarket Station in Edinburgh.

    Elsewhere, well-known "Yes" campaigners including Elaine C Smith, Ricky Ross and River City cast members will address voters in Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

     
  17.  
    06:53: Good Morning Scotland

    Tune into Good Morning Scotland for the latest Scottish independence referendum news and analysis.

    Gary Robertson

    On the final day of campaigning before tomorrow's vote, presenter Gary Robertson speaks to both sides in Edinburgh.

     
  18.  
    06:49: Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    A look at the #indyref issues for Edinburgh as we hear from yes and no campaigners in the capital. #bbcgms

     
  19.  
    06:47: 'The Scottish average'

    Polling expert John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, has been telling Good Morning Scotland which areas of the country he thinks will be most important to the result.

    voter with umbrella at 1999 Holyrood election

    He said: "This is a nationwide vote - none of them will be decisive.

    "If there's anywhere one can pick out, then maybe Fife will end up closest to the Scottish average."

     
  20.  
    06:42: Ex-military warn over 'Yes' vote

    Military figures have warned Scottish independence would make the whole UK more vulnerable to attack.

    British soldiers in Afghanistan

    In an open letter in the Sun newspaper, 14 former armed forces chiefs said a "No" vote in Thursday's referendum was "critical for all our security".

    Breaking up Britain would "weaken us all", they added.

    The letter "to the people of Scotland" was signed by seven former Chiefs of Defence Staff - Lords Boyce, Guthrie, Inge, Vincent, Stirrup, Craig and Richards.

     
  21.  
    06:30: Welcome Marianne Taylor BBC Scotland news

    Good morning and welcome to Referendum Live. We'll be here till late with the latest news, comment and analysis around tomorrow's vital vote.

    It's the final day of campaigning and both sides will be going all out to win over those final switherers.

    You can keep in touch and tell us your views throughout the day - tweet using #bbcindyref, email or text 80295.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.