Save our Galas!

6th April 2016

There has been much talk locally in recent weeks about the Council’s Budget for this financial year and the implications it will have for Gala days across the Council area, including Prestwick Prom. Although it appears that big events such as the Holy Fair, Ayr Flower Show and Ayr County Show will continue to receive support, local events including galas can no longer count on this as the support they received previously was provided for in a different a budget line.

For decades, the Council has provided stalls and bins for galas and many other events at no charge; they even put them up and took them down. However, such “in kind” support appears to have been withdrawn as of this year. This is despite gala committees receiving confirmation from the Council in 2015 that the service would be provided again this year free of charge.

I have written to the Council seeking clarification as to whether they are not going to fulfil their original commitments and, if not, to ask them to reconsider. While I understand that the budget is very tight, Gala days and other community events are important for many reasons, not least for the economic benefit and community integration they generate, and it is important to find a way of ensuring they can continue to take place.

I have requested details of the cost to the Council of providing this support as I find it hard to believe that it amounts to the £1,200 – £1,800 that the galas have reportedly been quoted. Going forward, it may be that a contribution towards costs becomes necessary and that Gala committees will require to recruit more volunteers to prepare and dismantle the stalls, but I would not like to think that the galas will just be viewed as a potential income source for the Council. If the Council is unable to continue their full support of Galas then I hope they will consider a transitional arrangement whereby their support is reduced gradually. This would allow organisers time to source other funding avenues and adjust to their new economic circumstances, rather than having the rug suddenly pulled from under them at short notice leading to the possibility of cancellation.