I’m a celebrity give me some cash

Steph McGovern at Wigan Business Expo
Steph McGovern at Wigan Business Expo

Thousands of pounds have been paid to celebrities to appear at events in Wigan, new figures reveal.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act show television personalities, motivational speakers and artists were among those who visited the borough.

Silk TV star Maxine Peake

Silk TV star Maxine Peake

They included BBC Breakfast business journalist Steph McGovern and Neil Clough, a finalist on BBC’s The Apprentice.

However, other stars did not receive a fee, including BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Shaun Keaveny, from Leigh, and actress Maxine Peake.

The information from Wigan Council shows the amount of money spent on VIP appearances in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years.

A total of £19,818.45 was spent - but much of that came from sponsorship, entry fees and other sources rather than directly from the council.

The largest bill was for guest speakers at the Wigan Business Expo networking event in October 2015.

Steph McGovern received £9,050, while Falklands War veteran Simon Weston was paid £3,780.75 and social media expert Joanna Booth received £400.

At the previous year’s event, they paid £524.30 to The Apprentice contestant Neil Clough.

Former soldier and motivational speaker Andy Reid and international sales presenter Andy Preston were not paid and the £350 cost of their exhibition stands equated to the same as their seminars.

The costs for the expos were funded through business sponsorship and partnership forums, so there was no direct cost to the council.

Emma Barton, the council’s assistant director for economic development, said: “At Wigan Council we are committed to supporting and championing local business.

“The Wigan Business Expo is an important and successful annual event celebrating our great businesses and is one of the largest of its kind in the North West with more than 1,000 attendees this year.

“We regularly attract big name speakers to the event and occasionally we do pay fees.

“However, these fees are offset by the income the event attracts through stand sales and business sponsorship and therefore does not impact on public sector funds from local council tax-payers.”

Staff training saw the council’s education department pay £2,000 for author Paul McGee, who wrote personal development book SUMO (Shut Up, Move On).

Greg Sampson, from personal and social education programme R Time, was paid £495.40. Other people were paid to appear at events run by customer services, which includes libraries and heritage services.

For appearances at a heritage day in May last year, Pemberton Old Wigan DW Brass Band was paid £400, artist Julie Dodd received £264 and Prof McCarty Punch And Judy show got £180, while local band Chockinfeckle and folk artists Lancashire Live were both paid £150. The costs were covered through the entry fee to the event.

Kate Pankhurst was paid £600 for six sessions as part of Children’s Book Week in September last year and Matt Buckingham received £300 for three sessions.

Other celebrities did not receive a fee. Shaun Keaveny and Maxine Peake were both not paid when they attended the Natural Gas festival in May 2015. Wigan Warriors player Dominic Crosby presented Apprentice Of The Year awards at a ceremony at Wigan And Leigh Homes in January this year for free, as a thank you for the support given to Wigan Warriors Community Foundation.