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JLS car hire for £480 among £20,000-plus costs for celebrities at council events

Getwestlondon can reveal the amounts paid for celebrity appearances at council events over the past two years

Hillingdon Council spent £480 on a hire car for Jonathan "JB" Gill

The cost of hiring celebrities for council events over the past two years in west London has been more than £20,000 - with £480 shelled out on a hire car for the visit of a JLS member.

Hillingdon Council paid out almost £500 for the transport of Jonathan "JB" Gill from the X Factor boyband, when he attended its Annual Kids in Care Awards during the financial year of 2014/15.

Mr Gill was not paid a fee for the appearance.

The figures have come from a Freedom of Information request submitted by our data journalism unit.

Brent Council

Brent Civic Centre, the home of Brent Council in Engineers Way, Wembley(Image: PA)

Brent Council paid broadcaster Jo Coburn £2,500 to chair two public meetings on budget proposals in the financial year of 2014/15.

Following the meetings, Councillor Muhammed Butt said: "Jo Coburn provided honest and independent advice to myself, the deputy leader of the council, the chief executive and our chief finance officer.

"She was an excellent independent chairwoman at our well attended public consultation events.

"Given the scale of the savings we are having to make due to central government cuts, we wanted to engage as many local people as possible in the budget consultation and the decision to involve Jo Coburn helped us to achieve that aim."

Ealing Council

Stand-up comedian and actress Kerry Godliman was paid £1,000 by Ealing Council

Comedian Kerry Godliman was paid a flat fee of £1,000 plus VAT to perform at the 2014 Ealing Council Staff Awards Ceremony, in June, at Ealing Town Hall.

The same fee was paid by the council to comedian Shappi Khorsandi, who performed at the same event a year later.

An Ealing Council spokesperson said "The employee awards recognise excellence and inspire employees to deliver the best services to our residents.

"The awards ceremony was fully sponsored in 2016 and 2015. The cost of the host in 2014 was also covered by sponsorship with no expense from public funds.

"Where we have used a host we have worked closely with our festivals and events team to ensure that we used someone already performing at the Ealing Comedy Festival to achieve better value."

Harrow Council

Wayne Hemingway MBE was paid £1,500 by Harrow Council

In February earlier this year, designer Wayne Hemingway MBE was paid £1,500 to appear at Harrow Council's Internal Housing Departmental Conference.

A Harrow Council spokesperson said Mr Hemingway's appearance came as part of a package of work the designer was undertaking for Harrow.

He added the package was the design of the council's £1.75bn 'Building a Better Harrow' regeneration programme.

Hillingdon Council

JLS star JB Gill pictured at his farm in Kent(Image: John Alevroyiannis)

The JLS member attended Hillingdon's Annual Kids in Care Awards in the financial year of 2014/15.

He took photos and handed out certificates at the event.

A Hillingdon Council spokesperson said: "Hillingdon Council is one of the most financially efficient councils in the country and is able both to freeze council tax and provide facilities, services and support to its residents that others are unable to do.

"The Kids in Care Awards are an incredibly worthwhile and well attended annual event that recognise and celebrate the achievements of some of the borough's most vulnerable children and young people.

"We are lucky each year that so many people, including celebrities, give up their time to attend and celebrate with the children, and as with all such events, some expenses are incurred."

Hounslow

The Voice's Jaz Ellington was paid £1,400 to appear at Hounslow Council's anniversary

At Hounslow Council's 50th anniversary event in 2015, Britain's Got Talent 2010 winners Spelbound were paid £2,000 to make an appearance along with The Voice's Jaz Ellington, who was paid £1,400.

At the Mayors Inauguration Dinner in 2015, The Voice's Nadeem Leigh was paid £375.

Actor and broadcaster Jeremy Nicholas was paid £1,500 to appear at both events.

Money was also paid to a number of acts at the Heathrow Festival of Rugby and Be Inspired Festival.

Councillor Steve Curran, leader of Hounslow Council, said: "Professional speakers and presenters are used on a small number of occasions where this helps to ensure events are as successful as possible.

"The council is acutely aware of the need to spend its budgets appropriately so in almost all cases the costs have been met by sponsors.

"The Be Inspired event at Redlees Park attracted around 10,000 people and was the highlight of the year for the borough.

"In 2015 the outlay from the council, in connection with mayoral events, totalled less than £2,000.

"The presence of the mayor, who is the first citizen of the borough, is very important to residents and is well respected by the community including local businesses."

Kensington and Chelsea Council

Kensington Town Hall

Kensington and Chelsea Council has spent £1,782 on author talks and events in libraries over the past two years.

Among the most expensive was author Karen Fernald, who was paid £200 to speak at a library event between May and July last year.

A council spokesman said: "Throughout the year we arrange a number of events and talks for library users and local people of all ages.

"We are proud that we have been able to attract leading historians and authors as guest speakers to our libraries.

"While many authors are happy to talk for free, or [be paid] expenses, some do require payment and in order to offer a wide range of authors, speakers and performers we pay fees when we cannot get the same expertise or knowledge in another way

"We also run a range of practical events including career advice, creative writing and IT training courses.

"At a time when libraries up and down the country are cutting back on what they offer, we are pleased to hold a wide variety of events for the enjoyment and education of our residents."

Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council paid actor Chris Barrie £4,000(Image: Westminster City Council)

Red Dwarf actor Chris Barrie was paid £4,000 to host the Westminster Way Awards in 2016.

A Westminster City Council spokesperson said the fee was covered entirely through sponsorship.

Meanwhile, Hammersmith and Fulham Council said it spent nothing on special guests at events in 2014/15 or 2015/16.

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