It was reported recently in the Birmingham Post that between 2006 and 2009 Birmingham City Council hired ‘Z-List’ Celebrities to promote their events at the cost of over £50,000. With the authority expected to axe 10,000 jobs over the next five years, already having cut 2,000 jobs last year, it must feel like a cold slap in the face for those ex-council workers, not to mention the sour aftertaste it leaves for the taxpayer.
Shaun Williamson, ‘famous’ for playing Barry Evans off EastEnders and Radio One DJ Kate Silverton were among the celebs used to ‘promote’ the authority. Back in 2009, our grassroots campaigners highlighted that the City Council had said they had initiated an “aggressive cost-cutting programme aimed at eliminating waste.” This of course was too late to stop the £50k waste, and will now be paid by cuts to residents’ services and a 1.9% council tax rise. £50k is admittedly, a relatively small amount of money in the grand scheme of things – but when you add a few £50k together it becomes a very big number – and wasteful schemes like these up-and-down the country during the supposed ‘good years’ have cost taxpayers’ an untold fortune. For the most part, these types of wasteful stunts have not been paid for, as the old adage goes, public debt is deferred taxation. As for Birmingham City Council, their debt (as of last year) stood at £2.4 billion – to be paid for by today’s taxpayers, their children and maybe even their children.
The point has been well mooted many times before – but it seems that it is still falling on some deaf ears. This is why the TaxPayers’ Alliance will keep campaigning hard – to ensure that all levels of government are more accountable to the people that pay for them.