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Have your picture taken with Tony? That'll be £180 (which may cover cost of converting brick shack at country mansion into guesthouse)



By Rebecca Camber

Last updated at 1:25 AM on 28th September 2009




He is already the world's highest-paid public speaker.


Now Tony Blair has found a way to make more money with just a smile.

The former prime minister is charging £180 for the privilege of having a picture taken with him.


article-1216434-069BB8EC000005DC-762_468x413.jpg Say fees! Mr Blair with wife Cherie sightseeing in China



Premium tickets for his lecture in Canada next month, costing around £420, include a 'photo opportunity' with Mr Blair.

The buyers will be whisked through in a one-hour session to stand alongside Mr Blair while the cameras flash.

For £180 less, there are 500 tickets with the 'photo opportunity not included', according to the promotional material.

All tickets for the Surrey Regional Economic Summit in British Columbia on October 6 have sold out - including the 100 premium spots.

Mr Blair is attending the event for about two hours and will speak for 30 minutes. His fee has not been disclosed, but is likely to be more than £100,000.

In previous appearances on the international lecture circuit he has commanded up to £6,000 a minute, making him the best-paid speaker in the world. But Mr Blair may be looking for a little extra cash for some planned home renovations.

He and wife Cherie want to convert a dilapidated brick shack at the bottom of the garden of their £5.75million Buckinghamshire mansion into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom guest house.

Their grand designs have angered neighbours who have accused the Blairs of trying to 'overdevelop' the Grade I listed estate, South Pavilion.






Local residents fear that that the shack, described as a gardener's cottage, could be developed into an independent dwelling which could be sold off in the future.

Since they bought the seven-bedroom house in 2006 the Blairs have angered neighbours with a car parking extension and attempts to install a swimming pool.


article-0-06684BE2000005DC-850_468x286.jpg Row: The Blairs want to convert a brick shack at the bottom of the garden at their country estate South Pavilion, in Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire



Their latest scheme involves a 50 square metre, single-storey extension to the cottage to add space for a kitchen and a living room. Plans show a 'contemporary-rear addition of glass and oak', complete with solar panels and under-floor heating.


There will be little change to the facade and the extension will be hidden from view of the main house by hornbeam trees.

Even so, there have already been a number of objections to the request for planning permission.

One neighbour wrote: 'Approving this application could allow for the Gardener's Cottage to become an independent dwelling and thus possibly sold off in the future, therefore setting a precedent for other cottages to also be broken up into individual units.'

Aylesbury Vale District Council is now considering the application.

A spokesman for the Blairs said: 'This is a derelict cottage which is a listed building. Mr and Mrs Blair are looking to bring it back into use whilst maintaining its unique character.'

When asked about Mr Blair's fees for lectures, his spokesman added: 'Whilst Mr Blair remains one of the most popular international speakers there is, the vast majority of his time is taken up by his unpaid activities in the Middle East, advocating on issues such as climate change and Africa, and with the work of his faith and sports foundations.'

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