When does performing for free result in ratepayers having to stomp up £36,000? The answer is when that performer is an individual by the name of Van Morrison. Apparently this individual has been granted the Freedom of the City of Belfast for the contribution he has made to the City. Not being a follower of his musical genre, whatever it might be, and not knowingly having listened to any of his little ditties I will refrain from commenting on whether this was a meritorious decision or not. In any event the decision was take by the city fathers and Mr Morrison now has all the quodos which attaches to a Freeman of the County of the City of Belfast and of course all the benefits.
In recognition of this great honour which was being bestowed upon him by his city of birth Mr Morrison volunteered to perform for free. The rub was that whilst he might be performing free gratis and for nothing the cost of his performance would not be free because his band and crew would require to be paid. Presumably there is also the matter of paying for security staff and stewarts at the Waterfront venue.
I have to confess that on reflection I have some sympathy for Morrison's band and crew, but why was the decision made not to charge for the tickets? Some two thousand free tickets were apparently released to the Belfast populace via a lottery system. I am told that fans will readily pay £50 and more to hear their crooner of choice. Imagine if Belfast City Council had made a profit on the event! A terrible suggestion I know but it is actually permissible.