Consultant put up at hotel for 15 months

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A COUNCIL official - involved in the disastrous 2008 Airbourne - was paid £600 a day and put up in a three-star hotel for more than a year, according to Herald sources.

A spokesman from Eastbourne Borough Council confirmed it had employed Adrian Ash as a consultant between June 2008 and October 2009.

The council budget for specialist advisors spiralled to £1,549,028.15 between 2008 and 2009.

Mr Ash - then interim assistant director of economy, tourism and planning - wrote a report which recommended the council slap a £5 admission charge on visitors to the airshow.

In a report to cabinet in June 2008, Mr Ash wrote, “The price represents very good value for money, similar airshows sell their tickets at more than £20 per adult per day.”

Just 48,000 people paid to watch the event from the enclosure, as others flocked to the beach and the promenade to watch the aerial acrobatics for free.

Traders within the fenced-off area complained their takings were down because so few people came through the gates.

Council leader councillor David Tutt refused to heap blame on any individual in the aftermath of the failed event which cost the council £360,000.

The consultant racked up more than £170,000 in wages and a council spokesman admitted it footed his Devonshire Park Hotel bill during his 15-month stay.

The hotel charges up to £555 a week for holiday-makers during peak season.

The spokesman said many expensive consultants were purged when council chief executive Robert Cottrill and other senior managers took over in late 2009.

He claimed the council had spent just £284,501.76 on consultants over the last financial year.

“When the new senior management team was appointed, in the latter part of 2009, the use of consultants was immediately reviewed.

“The review concluded that spending in this area could not be fully justified.

“Subsequently, the overall budget for consultants was drastically reduced,” said the council spokesman.

In a report last month East Sussex County Council, which is considerably larger than the borough council, said it spent £4 million on consultants last year.

Picture: Spectators outside the paid-for viewing area at Airbourne 2008.