Airshow cancellation blamed on ‘breakdown in trust’

Local aurthority said it had no option but to withdraw public support

Airshow cancellation blamed on ‘breakdown in trust’
The airshow regularly attracts more than 100,000 visitors.

A council has defended its decision to withdraw funding for a major airshow, blaming a “breakdown in trust and confidence” in organisers.

The Scottish International Airshow announced this week it was cancelling September’s event.

Directors Danny Anderson and Doug Maclean blamed South Ayrshire Council for pulling £250,000 in grant funding.

The three-day spectacle had been expected to draw crowds in excess of 100,000 at Low Green in Ayr.

In a lengthy statement posted on social media at the weekend, the directors said they were cancelling all aircraft, exhibits, hotel rooms and contractors.

But the local authority said it was left with no choice but to end the contract.

A council statement questioned the explanation for the dispute set out by directors and the local authority insisted the airshow had breached their contract – a claim denied by the organisers.

A spokesperson said: “South Ayrshire Council do not recognise the version of events which the organisers have set out in their press statement.  

“We reiterate that we have a duty to make sure public money is used only for agreed purposes. The funding contract is available to view on our website.”

The spokesperson added: “The organisers accept in their statement that they did not have the required reserves; did not respond in the timescales required; did not repay the sums as required; and used the sums to pay creditors from 2018.  

“The organiser’s failure to respond to our requests for information, and these breaches of the agreement, have led to a breakdown in our trust and confidence in them. 

“We have therefore, been left with no choice but to terminate the contract and withdraw public funding from the event.”

The show was established in 2014 after the closure of Leuchars Airshow.

No airshow was held last year to give organisers more time to plan for this year, which could have injected up to £6m into the local economy, according to the event’s forecasts.

The row broke into the open earlier this month when the council said an initial payment of £80,000 had been made in error.

The airshow insisted the money was an advance on the council’s £250,000 grant support.

In a new statement issued Tuesday, the directors insisted they had been open and upfront about financial details with council leaders but requests to meet and discuss the issues had been refused, they said.

“South Ayrshire Council should recognise our version of events because we have explained it to them in detail,” Mr Maclean told STV News.

“We had no explanation why they were willing to write off money already spent and cancel the airshow rather than pay the outstanding £170,000 to deliver this hugely beneficial event to Ayr.

“We refute any allegation that the contract was broken and the complete failure of leadership from the South Ayrshire Council leader and his team make it very difficult for us to continue with the partnership that had successfully brought tens of millions of pounds into the Ayrshire economy.

“Because of their withdrawal of funds and unwillingness to meet we had no choice but to cancel the 2020 Airshow in Ayr.”