Council’s £130,000 spend on South Tyneside Summer Festival gigs revealed

South Tyneside Summer Festival Sunday Concert, Bents Park.  Tony Hadley.
South Tyneside Summer Festival Sunday Concert, Bents Park. Tony Hadley.

Council bosses splashed out more than £130,000 on this year’s South Tyneside Summer Festival - but claim to have made more than ten times that.

Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have revealed that £76,000 was spent on hiring bands like The Proclaimers, UB40 and Alexandra Burke, to entertain crowds at Bents Park during the festival’s free Sunday concert series.

A further £8,000 was used to hire acts to perform at the Amphitheatre in Sea Road in a series of week-night gigs and £1,640 was paid out to entertainers appearing in South Marine Park on weekends,

Read a break-down of the figures here

Council bosses say that the concerts are value for money and this year generated £1.7 million for the borough by visitors.

A spokeswoman said: “Every year, the council holds the hugely popular free Summer Festival programme which is very well received by local people, and attracts thousands of tourists to the borough.

Thousands enjoyed this year's South Tyneside Summer Festival.

Thousands enjoyed this year's South Tyneside Summer Festival.

“This year’s festival was the most successful in the event’s 28-year history - drawing over 140,000 visitors to South Tyneside.

“Tourism supports thousands of jobs in the borough, and visitors to the seafront festival spent an estimated £1.7 million with local businesses – a 15% increase on last year.

“The free events which make up the festival enhance our tourism offer and encourage people to visit and support the borough. Each year we welcome around six million visitors with tourism worth £264 million to the local economy.

“This directly supports more than 3,500 jobs and our investment in music and festival events is a vital part of our work to create jobs and regenerate the area.”

Reggie n Bollie.

Reggie n Bollie.

She added: “Residents are fully consulted on priorities for spending and the cost of music events is included in annual budgets which are discussed openly and approved at meetings of the full Council.

“South Tyneside’s summer festival is also generously supported by local businesses and their sponsorship helps to offset the cost of the festival’s events to the public purse.

“We look forward to inviting music lovers and families back to the borough next year.”

After shelling out for stars the next biggest expenditure was a £21,000 bill for the hire and erection of the stage in Bents Park.

UB40 enertaining the crowds.

UB40 enertaining the crowds.

While £6.371 was spent on overtime wages for staff working weekend and evenings and almost £3,000 was spent on entertaining dignitaries and guests throughout the festival.

Earlier this year it was revealed by the Taxpayer’s Alliance that South Tyneside Council had spent £250,000 on festival gigs and Christmas Light switch-ons over the last three years - this does not include 2016’s bill.

However, in August 2014 the local authority spent £103,015 to stage the ticketed Soundwaves concert in Bents Park - which saw them make a loss of more than £60,000.
FOI figures showed that the event, which attracted just 3,300 people, brought in only £43,250 in ticket sales and led to a review of the borough’s summer events programme.

The Proclaimers on stage at Bents Park, South Shields.

The Proclaimers on stage at Bents Park, South Shields.

Music lovers enjoying the free gigs.

Music lovers enjoying the free gigs.

Alexandra Burke.

Alexandra Burke.

Coun Alan Kerr.

Coun Alan Kerr.