GLASGOW City Council spent nearly £40,000 of taxpayers' money getting Jedward and other "X-Factor rejects" to play at a loss-making music event despite facing massive public sector cutbacks and job losses.
Glasgow council also shelled out more than £5,000 to hire Take That and Abba tribute acts at last year's Glasgow Show. The concert made a loss of more than £140,000. In 2011, income from the show was £133,148, while the cost to the public purse was £274,126.
David Meikle, the city's sole Tory councillor, urged the council to stop "subsidising pop stars" while jobs were on the line.
Loading article content
Glasgow councillors are under pressure after it was revealed last month that they will have to find around £50m of savings by 2015.
Up to 1000 posts could be axed, on top of the near 3000 staff who have left the council since 2010.
Other than reducing headcount, senior council sources believe it is inevitable that cuts to the education, social work and roads services will also have to be made.
Given the prospect of painful cuts, the city council's use of its budget will be under scrutiny like never before.
Every year, the local authority pours money into the Glasgow Show, which the council describes as an "exhilarating weekend of amazing entertainment and exciting activities". In reality, it is a loss-making event that puts greater pressure on dwindling budgets.
The Sunday Herald can reveal that a large chunk of these costs went on hire fees for pop stars. Last year, Zap Entertainment received around £40,000 for the performers it provided.
According to invoices, Zap pocketed £33,600 for drumming up various entertainers, including Irish duo Jedward, who came sixth in the 2009 season of X Factor.
X-Factor judge Simon Cowell once said of their ability: "They are deluded in such a funny way that they're genuinely not aware how bad they are."
The cash also paid for fellow X-Factor contestants, Lloyd Daniels and Joe McElderry, singer Carrie Mac, and Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall from Tarbolton in Ayrshire.
The same firm received £5,340 for providing a Take That tribute and an Abba/70s event.
Another company, Tony Yorke Associates, was paid £14,940 for stunt shows, £4,200 for "Smiley and George the Happy Trains", and £3,696 for "Tony Christian's High Fall Show".
In previous years, the council funded a hospitality tent at the event, at which councillors and their guests could enjoy free food and booze at public expense. However, the junketing was ditched after negative publicity in 2010.
Adults and children have to pay to get into the Glasgow Show, but councillors get free tickets.
Meikle said: "I'm shocked that this Labour council spent £40,000 on singers to perform at the Glasgow Show. These are tough financial times and it is important the council cuts unnecessary expenditure. By all means continue with the show, but we should not be subsidising pop stars and X-Factor rejects."
Graeme Hendry, the SNP group leader on the council, said: "The Glasgow Show has been around for a long time and many Glaswegians enjoy it. However, the administration will have to make hard decisions and work to ensure the event does at least break even. I'm pretty confident the Glasgow Show will not lose much in the way of its popularity if we stopped paying exorbitant fees for the likes of Jedward."
A council spokesman said sponsorship and external support had been increased for the event, adding: "The Glasgow Show is always a popular event in the city's calendar and, in 2011, around 70,000 enjoyed the weekend at Glasgow Green."