A COUNCIL shelled out more than £12,000 on morale-boosting motivational speakers, including former champion sprinter Kriss Akabusi, the Oxford Mail can reveal.

Oxfordshire County Council said it paid a total of £12,690 for guest speakers to visit two staff conferences held in Oxford in November 2016 and November 2017.

Mr Akabusi was the keynote speaker at the conference held at the King’s Centre last year – but the council refused to say how much it had paid him.

But it admitted in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that it spent £9,550 on last November’s event and paid £3,140 for other speakers in November 2016.

Other speakers at November 2017’s event included life and sleeping coach Rachel McGuinness, who set up her own company, Wake Up With Zest.

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “Like most large organisations in both the public and private sector the county council holds an annual staff conference.

“It is a once a year chance to bring together people from all levels of our organisation from services.

“The intention is to keep morale up and talk through the future direction of the council. We do have a keynote speaker at this event. However it is the only time in the calendar that we do this.”

In 2016 the council paid £3,140 on speakers including life coach Jonathan Peach, who gave an hour-long talk entitled The Art of Brilliance.

In a video on his website, he tells an audience: “(Staff) are not sponges that you wring. It’s about creating an environment in which you turn up every day as the very best version of yourselves – because then you can change the world.”

Chloe Westley, a campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “What a waste of taxpayers’ money. If staff at Oxfordshire County Council need motivating, perhaps they should remind themselves that families across the county are paying their salaries and pensions. In future, staff should spend more time and money on improving services.”

Cherwell District Council spent £3,506.90 on guest speakers over 2016 and 2017. That includes a £802.65 bill paying for education expert Mairi McLeod, who gave 20-minute presentation at an education workshop in January 2017.

Oxford City Council’s spend of £800 over the two years paid for three speakers who appeared at public events during Oxford Green Week. All were funded by grants.

West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils paid for no external speakers in 2016 and 2017.

This article was updated on January 8, 2018. West Oxfordshire District Council had returned a Freedom of Information request to say it paid for no guest speakers in November 2017.