17 May 2022

Council to spend £76,000 on events that won't take place

Almost £400,000 of funding is to be allocated to nine events, just four of which are planned to take place.

Council to spend £76,000 on events that won't take place

A local council are due to spend £76,000 sustaining a number of tourism events that have confirmed they will not take place in 2021.

The funding is part of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Tourism Events Recovery Fund (TERF), with a total of £396,538.50 set aside for the project.

The money will help event organisers 'tick over' with a view to running the events in 2022.

Of this total, £319, 675 has been allocated to events that have indicated they are to go ahead later this year.

Among them are Limavady's Stendhal Festival (£99,000), Supercup NI (£100,000), Ballylough Living History Trust (£70,125) and the Armoy Road Races (£50,550).

A further £59,887.50 has been awarded to the Coleraine and District Motor Club, who are responsible for organising the North West 200 and who have confirmed the event will not take place.

The remaining £16,976 is to be shared between the Heart of the Glens Festival, the Co Londonderry Agricultural Show, Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and North Antrim Agricultural Show.

Councillors at the Council's Leisure and Development Committee discussed the proposals at length, with Cllr Cara McShane proposing no funding be awarded to events that would not proceed.

“We need to catch ourselves on,” she said.

“It's very hard to sell this to our constituents in these particularly difficult times. This council took a decision on a whim to fund an air show next June, so our resources are already stretched.

“Our events team would be much better involved in trying to help those events during the post-recovery period of Covid-19, when they can come back bigger and stronger.”

"We need to catch ourselves on.": Cllr Cara McShane.

Bann councillor Richard Holmes suggested the proposal should have included a two tier approach; support for those events not taking place and a grant for those that were.

“I think we are the victims of the PR on this before we got into the chamber tonight,” he said.

“When you look at the headline, preparing to hand out £400,000 to summer events, whether or not they go ahead, and you read the comments, it makes for pretty awful reading.

“We've cancelled our entire summer programme. You just wonder if any of these events are going to be sustainable this summer.”

Council officials confirmed money would be recuperated, before Limavady councillor Aaron Callan stressed the importance of ensuring the tourism events did not die.

“If we followed everything that is said on social media, we would never do anything,” he said.

“At the other side of Covid-19, we as a council want to generate night stays, visitors and to bring people to the area. We can't do that without these events.

The NI Supercup is one of the events still due to take place this year.

“These are largely run by communities and generate huge economic spend in our areas. We will take a bigger hit economically if these events are not here next year.”

Cllr McShane's amendment that no additional funding from last year be awarded to those events proceeding, no funding for events that aren't, and a commitment to research central grants, was defeated by 12 votes to 4.

The original proposal to accept the recommendations, and award almost £400,000 of funding to sustain the nine events, was carried by 12 votes to 3, with 1 abstention.

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