A DISPLAY of two photographs and a crest on the wall which cost taxpayers more than £2,000 has been branded a “vanity project”.

Basildon Council claimed it makes an “important statement” - but critics claim the money has been wasted.

Basildon Council spent £2,258 combined on a framed photograph of council leader Gavin Callaghan, another of Chief Executive Scott Logan and a council crest.

Former Tory leader Andrew Baggott said: “At a time when it’s about getting value for money they’ve done this - and they made a big fuss when we were in power and paid for a door mat for the safety of employees.

“This is hypocrisy, to get into administration and spend taxpayers’ money on this.

“I think it is very egotistical and you have to ask what value it adds for the residents.

“It’s just incredibly arrogant.

“I do not think residents will think this is a good use of taxpayers’ money.

“It adds nothing to the residents of the borough.”

Residents also complained about the money spent.

Maureen Tilley, 40, of Waldegrave, Basildon said: “I think it’s disgusting and should be stopped.

“Why should we pay for this, if they want pictures of themselves they should be made to pay for it.

“This cash could have been spent on support people with very low incomes or even disabled people.

“There are much better ways to use and spend the tax payers cash and this is not one of them at all.”

Basildon Council claimed this was an important thing to do.

A spokesman for the council said: “A photograph of the council leader has been placed in a prominent position at the entrance to the council’s civic space – which visitors to the Mayor’s parlour and to the council chamber and committee rooms pass through – alongside a photograph of the council’s chief executive and the council’s official crest.

"The framed photograph of the Council Leader cost £179.

“Together, these photographs and crest are an important statement, so that people know who is responsible for the council and are able to recognise them and hold them to account.”

The photographic portraits cost £220 and the frames £138.

The crest in the display cost £1,900.

'They can't criticise us!'

BASILDON Council leader Gavin Callaghan refused to accept any criticism from the Conservative Party over an alleged “vanity project”. 

Despite refusing to respond to the Echo’s requests for comment, the councillor was quick to take to social media insisting the Conservatives in Basildon are not in a place to criticise him. 

After being accused of wasting taxpayers cash, Mr Callaghan pointed towards the Tories spending £7,500 on a council doormat in January this year, as well as highlighting the controversial proposed sale of land near to Basildon golf course for £1. Adding he would “not be taking lectures” on what represents value for money. 

In a series of angry tweets sent yesterday afternoon, he said: “From the party who spent thousands on Mayoral robes, doormats, Mayoral portraits and were about to sell £1.5m worth of land for £1.

“I’m not taking any lectures on what is value for money from the Billericay Tory boys. T

"hey were wrong about the chamber. Wrong about the webcasting. 

“They’re wrong about the cost of the new civic area at the council. 

“They want to distract the public from the fact their Tory government wants to impose a congestion charge in Basildon. The public won’t fall for it.”