London council paid stars £42,000 for staff awards

Barbara Windsor
Image caption Barbara Windsor was paid £13,000 to appear at a staff awards ceremony in 2008

An east London council paid out £42,000 for celebrities to attend staff events, figures have revealed.

The results of a Freedom of Information request showed Tower Hamlets council spent £13,000 on a guest appearance by Barbara Windsor in November 2008.

Councillor Zara Davis, who requested the data which relates to July 2005 to January 2011, said the council had failed to provide good value for money.

The council said it no longer hired well-known speakers for staff awards.

The figures showed the council paid Sharron Davies £6,000 to appear at its annual staff awards ceremony in 2006 and £7,500 for Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson to appear at the same event the following year.

'Staff motivation'

Conservative councillor Zara Davis described the findings as an absolute outrage and said taxpayers would be "horrified that Tower Hamlets council has blown tens of thousands of pounds on celebrities".

She said: "What is even more distressing is that whilst the council fritters away money, Tower Hamlets remains one of the most deprived areas in the country.

"The very fact that the council would blow its money on celebrities rather than invest in vital services just beggars belief."

A spokeswoman for the independently-run council said: "The council, like many, many public sector organisations, did from time to time recruit the services of guest speakers and celebrities at events, where it was judged that their involvement would help in the promotion of a key service or motivating staff.

"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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