Celebrities paid �42,000 to attend council events

TOWER Hamlets Council has been branded “disgraceful” for spending �42,000 for celebrities like Barbara Windsor to attend its staff functions.

Council chiefs shelled out �13,000 to the former EastEnders actress for her appearance at its 2008 staff awards event.

In 2009, comedian Shappi Khorsandi was paid �8,050 for the yearly do and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Esther Rantzen were also given thousands for turning up to other bashes.

Cllr Zara Davis, who put in a Freedom of Information request on the data, called the spends “an absolute outrage”.

The Conservative councillor for Millwall added: “It is disgraceful. What is even more distressing is that while the council fritters away money, Tower Hamlets remains one of the most deprived boroughs in the country.

“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.”

Emma Boon, from the Tax Payers’ Alliance, said the payouts were particularly shocking because they occurred during tough financial times.

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She said: “Tower Hamlets residents will be angry that their council tax has not been spend on services for their community, but on this shallow pandering to celebrity culture.”

The council said it did “from time to time” recruit celebrities to promote services or motivate staff – and insisted the practice is common in public sector organisations.

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

“We have long been a high performing council and have previously hired a well known speaker to address our staff awards ceremony.

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