Gazette readers believe council bosses got their money’s worth after splashing out £130,000 on this year’s South Tyneside Summer Festival.
Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, revealed that £76,000 was spent on hiring bands like The Proclaimers, UB40 and Tony Hadley 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, and £1,640 was paid out to entertainers appearing at South Marine Park, while £21,000 was spent on stage hire and erection costs.
However, council bosses said they made more than ten times the cost of the festival pulling in £1.7 million for the borough’s economy – a 15% increase on last year.
They say 3,500 jobs were also supported by visitors watching the gigs.
The majority of Gazette readers also believe the cash was well spent – and they enjoyed the free events.
Graham Slesser wrote: “Well happy, I certainly enjoyed myself at the events. Well done the council.”
Margy Brownsword sent: “Fabulous. Well organised events,. Money well spent.”
Nigel Martin stated: “They generated a return of 1.7 million for a investment of just £130,000. Sounds good to me, not to mention keeping people in work too, so more money saved in benefits as well.”
Jo Daly said: “The events they have here are amazing compared to when we lived in Newcastle. Can’t fault any of them and every one brings in crowds who will spend money on food, shopping and parking every time. It’s a win win.”
Ni Todd added: “Brilliant. Puts my beloved Shields on the map.”
Amanda Fay wrote: “Great events that give many visitors a positive view of the town. I don’t have a problem with the small proportion of the council tax that goes on these events.
Darren Wilkey wasn’t quite so convinced by the figures.
He said: “3,500 tourism jobs , six million visitors. Really? I would love to know where the 3,500 people in tourism actually work?
“Six million visitors means an average of 16,500 visitors each day. While I welcome the positivity and publicity the concerts project of the town, I wish the council wouldn’t insult our intelligence by stating ridiculous figures.”
Kevin Rossiter believes the festival shouldn’t be free and people should buy tickets.
He said: “I think this should not be paid for from the pockets of South Tynside Council tax payers.
“It should be a ticketed event and people that want to go pay for the entertainment. Surely its about choice.”