South Tyneside Council urged to reveal costs of Soundwaves pop concert

COSTS PLEA ... Coun Jeff Milburn.
COSTS PLEA ... Coun Jeff Milburn.

COUNCIL bosses have been challenged to come clean over how much a pop concert cost taxpayers in South Tyneside.

Just over 3,000 people attended the SoundWaves event in Bents Park, South Shields, on Saturday evening, which saw acts like All Saints, Texas, Gabrielle and South Shields soul singer Lulu James take to the stage.

COST CHALLENGE ... All Saints in action at the Soundwaves concert.

COST CHALLENGE ... All Saints in action at the Soundwaves concert.

For weeks before the event, tickets were offered on a “two for one” basis and also as prizes to council staff.

South Tyneside Council won’t reveal how many people paid for a full-price £30 adult ticket with £20 concession, saying it is still collecting numbers from the four venues where they were being sold.

It has also refused to say how much it cost to stage the event, including appearance fees and set-up costs.

Conservative councillor Jeff Milburn is demanding that the true cost of the concert is revealed, and says he will be “shocked” if it has made a profit.

He said: “If more than 3,000 attended the event, that’s probably only around 1,500 who paid for a ticket, since they were being offered on a ‘buy one get one free’ basis.

“What’s that – approximately £45,000 if you’re lucky?

“When you take into account the acts would have been paid, building the stage and marketing costs. I will be amazed if there’s been any profit from this event.”

An average free Sunday concert – part of the annual South Tyneside Summer Festival programme – will see between 10,000 to 15,000 people come to Bents Park.

Last month, SoundWave tickets were offered as a ‘buy one get one free’ deal, and an undisclosed number of tickets were given away in a council-led ‘nominate your workmate’ scheme – which saw individual employees or small teams, put forward colleagues for tickets.

Despite the lack of detailed figures, council bosses say “more than 3,000 people” attended the event.

Last year’s SoundWaves Concert, which was the first, saw more than 6,000 tickets being sold for £20 each and performers included Little Mix, Joe McElderry, Luminites, The Vamps and McFly.

Coun Milburn, who represents Cleadon and East Boldon, said: “I asked my four children about this year’s acts. The ones in their early 20s recognised All Saints, the younger ones didn’t know who the rest were.

“From a marketing point of view, why on earth would the younger people of South Tyneside pay to see these people?

“Who makes these decisions to book these acts? We need names which will attract people of all ages. During these times of austerity, when so many cutbacks have to be made, we can’t be wasting money like this.

“I am all for tourism and the free Sunday concerts attract thousands and thousands of people from far and wide, but I don’t believe many will have profited from this SoundWaves gig.”

A council spokesman said: “Although we are still collecting the information from the weekend, early indications show that more than 3,000 people enjoyed our SoundWaves music concert featuring top-class performances by Texas, All Saints, Gabrielle and rising star Lulu James.

“South Tyneside has an excellent track record for staging live music shows, which are not only very well received by local people, but significantly increase the number of visitors to our borough and the length of time people spend in the area.

“Every year, the council holds the hugely popular free summer festival programme, which draws up to two million visitors to the coastline and helps to support thousands of jobs in tourism.

“SoundWaves is held in an addition to this, and supports our plans to make South Tyneside a place people want to come to, talk about and invest in.

“Events like this with big-name acts create a real buzz and bring vibrancy to the area as well as boost business, which is great news for the local economy.”

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