Councillor questions golf sponsorship

AN ARBROATH councillor has accused the local authority’s economic development department of making estimates “without foundation”.

Arbroath councillor Peter Nield was speaking before the infrastructures services committee on Tuesday when members were to be asked to consider using £50,000 of public money to sponsor professional women’s golfer Catriona Matthew.

The 2011 Women’s Open will be played at Carnoustie in July and the sponsorship deal would see her wear the ‘Carnoustie Country’ logo at all competitions for two years and promote the brand.

Angus Council say that the deal would bring maximum exposure to the ‘Carnoustie Country’ campaign and help to encourage more visitors to Angus.

But the report was deferred to the full council for their consideration.

In light of the tough economic times local councils are facing, Councillor Nield despite not being on the infrastructure services committee, says he is not able to support the report, especially as other estimates by the economic development department in the past had not been accurate.

He explained: “In this climate where we are making cuts, reducing staffing, putting up charges and streamlining services, I cannot support sponsorship of a professional golfer.

“The report gives no evidence that wearing a badge is really influential.

“Past evidence proves beyond doubt, that the estimates produced by our economic development department, ever since they were formed, have been pie-in-the-sky, without foundation, and clearly plucked out of the air to attempt to substantiate a report.

“For instance look at Pictavia where over 11 years ago economic development said visitors would be 24,000, compare that to actual figure and take out the free school visits we offered and it was and it is clear they were all ‘makie-up’ numbers.

“I want to know who authorised economic development to go seeking to fund sponsorship in this way without councillor permission - just who is responsible for this council? Is this department out of control?

“Why should council taxpayers in Angus be subsiding the lifestyle of a professional player for no direct benefit, why should she be receiving more for wearing a badge and two days work, than many of our hard working employees?”

The report will be considered again at the full meeting of Angus Council on March 24.