CASH-STRAPPED council bosses spent more than £3,000 on funding a music festival in North Yorkshire, it has been revealed.
Sunderland City Council refused to reveal how much it had spent on funding a play area at this year’s Deer Shed Festival, but the Echo can today reveal the bill was £3,600.
The authority will sponsor a play area at next month’s Deer Shed Festival 4 – 60 miles from Wearside – at a time when it faces huge cuts.
Campaigners are currently fighting to save nine city libraries from the axe in a bid to save the council £850,000.
Council bosses believe the festival outlay will help boost tourism in Sunderland.
But Tory leader Robert Oliver said tough economic times meant only essential spending should be considered. He said: “I think the public will feel it is in thousands and it is a significant amount of money.
“We seem to have a very expensive PR campaign and they are spending a lot of money on very high-end things.
“They are also contracting PR companies for consultancy work, and I just don’t think that is appropriate for Sunderland.
“I think we need to be doing a lot more basic things – spending money on the retail, leisure and business in the city.”
He added: “I think at the moment, all the money needs to be necessary spending on services we have to provide.”
Speaking at the time, Coun John Kelly, cabinet member for public health, wellness and culture, justified the council’s decision to fund the three-day festival, in Baldersby Park, near Topcliffe.
He said: “Sunderland City Council is working with Deer Shed Festival 2013 because we think this popular family-friendly music, arts and science festival is a great fit for us and an ideal opportunity to share our new place brand See it – Do it Sunderland.
“The new campaign focuses on our family-friendly visitor offer in Sunderland, so we share the same ethos as Deer Shed Festival, plus the location in North Yorkshire is within our visitor catchment area.
“Sponsoring the Family Workshop area means that we can strengthen our working relationship with Deer Shed Festival and share our new See it – Do it Sunderland campaign, and showcase the variety and quality of the offer we provide to our visitors.”