Row as Sunderland City Council provides £50,000 contribution to support Stadium of Light concerts including Spice Girls gig

Spice Girls Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Horner and Emma Bunton will perform in the city next year.
Spice Girls Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Horner and Emma Bunton will perform in the city next year.

City leaders ‘Wannabe’ rethinking a plan to provide the concerts at the Stadium of Light, including the Spice Girls gig, with £50,000 of support, say rival councillors.

Opposition leaders have hit out at the plan to back the event, at the Stadium of Light on June 6 next year, and another show yet to be announced.

The council cannot cut services for residents, claiming poverty, and then splurge the cash on vanity events like this, which frankly ought to pay for themselves.

Niall Hodson

Sunderland City Council says some cash will be recouped through “service charges” such as licensing applications and road closures, with the money expected to be spent on costs including marketing the city’s attractions to visitors.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat members have slammed the move.

Tory group leader Councillor Robert Oliver said ‘it beggars belief’ that Labour Group on Sunderland Council are spending money on concerts in the city “at the same time as they are cutting funds to vital public services”.

He added: “Sunderland Conservatives were the first to expose these handouts when £375,000 was handed over to help pay for concerts at the stadium two years ago which provoked a furious backlash from residents.

“As the Spice Girls say, it should be a case of ‘Stop right now thank you very much’ as far as these subsidies are concerned with the football club or the promoters perfectly able to fund the entire concert themselves.”

Lib Dem leader Councillor Niall Hodson said: “We are really concerned to see Sunderland Council yet again spending tens of thousands of pounds of residents’ money subsidising private, for-profit, concerts.

“The council cannot cut services for residents, claiming poverty, and then splurge the cash on vanity events like this, which frankly ought to pay for themselves.

“This is the same council which cut travel support for disabled school children. It is sickening.”

But council leader Graeme Miller said: “We know from past experience that stadium concerts play an important role in helping to support and grow our economy, bringing thousands of people into a city where visitor expenditure was worth £429 million to the city’s economy last year and 5,309 of the city’s jobs are supported by tourism.

“With each concert generating around £3.5 million worth of spending in local restaurants, bars and hotels, it makes absolute sense for the council to be providing support.

“That is why, with the Spice Girls concert alone expected to bring upwards of £4 million to the city, the council working in partnership with the club is making a financial contribution of £50,000 towards concerts.”