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Adam Barnett, Reporter
Thursday, May 1, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: Tower Hamlets Council spent more than £47,000 of public money on a curry event in Brick Lane hosted by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott.
The Taste Brick Lane Awards event on March 23 - commissioned by Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who also attended - saw the TV chef judge the street’s best curry houses, and featured entertainment from jugglers and dancers.
The council said in response to a Freedom of Information request by a resident that it spent £47,176 of taxpayers’ money on the one day event.
Conservative Cllr Peter Golds called the sum “extraordinary”.
He said: “Once again the Rahman administration has used taxpayers’ money, £47,000 in this case, for a publicity event enabling the administration to use a personality, rather than make improvements such as cracking down on touting and providing toilet facilities, both of which will last beyond pictures in East End Life.”
A spokesman for the Labour group said: “What Brick Lane needs is a coherent plan to deliver lasting change and restore the area to its former glory. Expensive one off events wont achieve that.”
The Taste Brick Lane Awards were run by events company Captive Minds, who the council chose after a procurement process.
Ainsley Harriott was selected using an agency and was paid to take part.
A council spokesman said: “As part of an ongoing programme of promoting the borough’s town centres and markets the council devised a marketing plan for Brick Lane.
“One of the objectives was to link up the two ends of Brick Lane and encourage market trade to visit the restaurants on a Sunday afternoon.
“The primary target audience were families and tourists. To create a point of focus, a celebrity chef, Ainsley Harriott, was used to compere and lead a curry tasting event.”
He added: “The event was a great success with significant crowds throughout the day.”