LIVERPOOL city councillors were warned last night that if they had concerns about the financial losses of the Summer Pops series they would be in for a "culture shock" in 2008.
Resources chief Phil Halsall faced a barrage of questions about the amount of money channelled from city coffers to bankroll the showpiece Big Top concerts last year, to the tune of £340,000.
He told the council's culture and tourism select committee at a stormy meeting that in Capital of Culture Year the city would be spending between £15m and £20m on events.
"Without being too harsh, if the council has problems spending £300,000 attracting some of the biggest names to Liverpool, the Capital of Culture is going to be a real shock for you," Mr Halsall told the committee.
The highly-charged meeting set out to examine the arrangements and organisation of the Summer Pops after it was revealed around £1.8m of taxpayers' money had been used to underwrite the event, between 2001 and 2004.
In the firing line was Mr Halsall, the officer given responsibility for the event after the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society baled out following a loss-making series in 2000.
Select Committee chairwoman Cllr Bernie Turner adjourned the meeting for two weeks, saying that a number of key questions put to Mr Halsall had still to be answered.
In one exchange, Mr Halsall objected to issues being raised by city lawyer Rex Makin, who represents suspended council media chief Matt Finnegan. Executive director Colin Hilton intervened to block the questions.
But Mr Halsall resolved questions circulating in the city about his business relationship with Chas Cole, the promoter and organiser of the Summer Pops.
Mr Halsall said he had never met Mr Cole before 2001 when he was first introduced to the council as a potential organiser of the troubled event.