A city council has been slammed after it was accused of using public money to pay for a sexy blonde pole dancer to perform a "disgusting" routine at an event.

A formal complaint was lodged with the council following the controversial stage act which was part of the third Gala del Comerc by the Association of Merchants and Entrepreneurs (AME) in the municipality of Bonrepos I Mirambell, in Valencia, Spain, on Thursday October 8.

The gala, which aims to promote local businesses and is held at the city council hall, traditionally has an opening performance by local artists to kick things off.

This year's act performed by professional dancer, Claudia Poveda, who strips to her lacy underwear to sexy music in full makeup in front of a mesmerised audience, has seen AME organisers under fire.

The show has been branded "disgusting"

Regional party spokeswoman for Compromis, a left-wing political coalition focused on environmentalism and progressive politics, Rosella Antoli, called the performance "disgusting" and said that it objectifies women.

She added that it is incomprehensible for a council "highly committed to equality", and at which the council's mayor and equality minister spoke, to accept an act in which "women are sexualised".

The city council and mayor have rejected the criticism, saying the pole dancing is a serious sport, but has nevertheless introduced stricter procedures around bookings of performances using public money as a consequence of the backlash.

The AME has defended its decision to book the act

The AME, which benefits from a major council subsidy, has defended the booking, telling Real Press News Agency that it was one of their best options given that social distancing because of coronavirus made the planned group act impossible.

They also argue that the performance and music were not explicit and that Ms Poveda, who was injured during the performance, has been victimised in spite of helping organisers out of a tricky situation around "infrastructural difficulties caused by coronavirus".

They stressed that the commissioning council was comprised of three women and two men and that all had thought it was a good idea.

President of the Association of Merchants and Entrepreneurs, Pascual Lluch, told Real Press that he regrets "the attacks" he is receiving over the issue that was Ms Poveda's suggestion after their original plans fell through.

He said: "Pole dance is a sport and the dancer did not receive guidelines on what clothes she should wear. This is the uniform that they wear when this sport is practiced.

Professional dancer Claudia Poveda stripped to lacy underwear during the performance

"Claudia is the most devastated after this as this is one of her dreams. She is a gymnast and also a circus artist.

"Holding the weight of a whole body with just one arm or a leg is not a joke. It is a normal sport that will be in the Olympic games and she feels very disrespected. I think we should be much more progressive with these issues."

Mr Lluch told Real Press that the main objection to the show was from the Compromis party "who basically repudiated the action of a gymnast that was doing what she trains for every day" and didn't show up to the meeting to discuss the situation.

Lluch said: "In general, there are many critics, but there are way more people that support us and respect what we did."

"The respect towards her from the council was clearly there from everybody. Nobody said anything obscene to her" adding that everyone had enjoyed the performance and that the AME has a good working relationship with Ms Poveda in spite of the sudden pressure on her.

Lluch added: "Next year they will do the rope show with good [social distancing] infrastructure."

The city council, which is currently governed by the Socialist Party of the Valencian Country (PSPV), has decided to change the way it organises future events with added oversight, especially with future AME events.

Mayor Raquel Ramiro denied seeing the performance but said in a press statement that while groups have full autonomy in the organisation of these galas, "the city council will ask for a script for the gala and will supervise it," from now on.

Compromis has since also apologised to the artist for criticising her but maintained that the clothes she performed in weren't appropriate.