A COUNCILLOR has claimed that a £166,000 overspend on last year's Ashfield Show – featuring top girl group Sugababes – was "the most flagrant misuse of public money I have ever seen".
Coun Gail Turner, leader of Ashfield District Council's Independent/Conservative Alliance, was commenting on a scathing internal audit report into the 2009 show.
This pointed out that 345,000 had been spent on the two-day show, held at Sutton Lawn Park, with invoices still coming in.
The report stated that there had been a failure to follow financial regulations and contract procedure rules, with expenditure incurred for which there was no authority.
The show was organised while the Liberal Democrats were the council's ruling party.
Coun Turner said: "We must recoup this money one way or another and our aim is to make Ashfield the most improved council in the country."
Council leader, Coun John Knight (Lab), said he wanted to see Ashfield Show return to being an event for working-class people and their families – and not costing a fortune.
But Lib Dem group leader, Coun Jason Zadrozny, accused Labour of not following up on five-figure sponsorship deals for the show when they gained control of the council.
He added that the overspend was partly due to a last-minute decision to make the Sugababes performance all-ticket, which cut the capacity to 15,000 people.