Petition to halt gala day costs

Ballantrae Gala Day is one of the south Ayrshire events hit by the council move.
Ballantrae Gala Day is one of the south Ayrshire events hit by the council move.

Community groups in Girvan and south Carrick have submitted a petition against a recent council decision to charge them for gala day services.

South Ayrshire Council’s Public Processes Panel will debate the petition at its meeting on December 7.

Council officers have recommended that the Panel considers the content of the report in response to the petition relating to charges being levied on community galas.

A petition was received by the council on September 20 this year which stated, “We the undersigned are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to Reinstate financial support for our events and galas”.

The petition has been accepted as a valid petition as it complies with the Council’s Public Petitions Protocol.

Members of the panel will hear that the Scottish Government finance settlement received by the council for 2016/17 was much lower than originally anticipated, and created an additional funding gap at short notice.

A report from council officers states: “The decision to remove free support for Gala days/events and save £15,000 was part of a package of additional savings totalling £3.2 million, and was approved by South Ayrshire Council on 3 March to address the significant budget gap.

“Grounds Maintenance holds an asset of stalls, tables and chairs that have been utilised in gala days for a number of years. There is no budget for the maintenance or renewal of any of the equipment; there is no budget stream for facilitating the installation, storage and delivery of equipment to support galas; and the majority of works associated with the galas are out of hours and required to be undertaken in overtime situations at a cost of approximately £15,000.

“The galas affected were informed in writing of the Council decision and were advised of the costs now associated with their own individual galas. The costs reflected the number of stalls, tables and chairs booked for their event in accordance with the schedule of charges.

“The Enterprise Review, which is currently in progress, will consider the criteria for support to events and it is anticipated that the results of this review will be brought to a future Service and Performance Panel.”

The report added that officers from Grounds Maintenance are happy to facilitate community transfer of equipment for communities to organise and coordinate future events themselves. The option of community transfer of equipment used for galas and events has not been taken up by any community group so far.