THE cost of reviving Ayr's airshow could end up affecting day-to-day local services in the area, an opposition councillor has warned.

South Ayrshire’s Labour group leader Brian McGinley said the cost of bringing back the event could have a detrimental effect on the authority's other services.

But Conservative council leader Martin Dowey hit back, arguing that the event aims to break even.

Cllr Dowey also said Cllr McGinley hadn't been worried about the prospect of borrowing an extra £7 million for the Ayr Leisure Centre plans under the Labour-SNP administration which ran the authority until May this year - since dumped after the Conservatives seized power following the local authority elections.

Concerns were raised by councillors at a meeting of the council's audit and governance panel about the £1.5m being proposed for running the airshow over the next five years.

They have now demanded a more detailed report on the plans and finances, having acknowledged the money will not actually be approved until the council’s 2023/24 budget meeting in March.

Officials explained that the decision of the Cabinet was made so that they could draw up those detailed plans.

Councillors agreed that a report on the planning and finance of the airshow should come to them in February, before the authority's annual budget meeting.

Councillor Brian McGinley said that he was "happy with the aspiration" but concerned about the lack of evidence of planning, finances and risk management.

He added that the timeframe was a "political decision".

Suggesting the possibility of the costs spiralling he added: “The problem is that we will have to find some significant cuts to deliver a balanced budget.”

He said that come April, the airshow investment could be used to mitigate the need to pull back on ‘free school meals or shut down community centres’.

After the meeting, council leader Martin Dowey took issue with this claim, pointing out that the previous administration had granted £250,000 without any financial return.

He added: “Cllr McGinley forgot to mention that he wasn’t worried about the teachers or free school meals when it came to the additional £420,000 a year he wanted in order to service the additional £7m of borrowing for Ayr Leisure Centre, for which there would be no return.”

Unusually, two separate ‘call ins’ were made on the same subject.

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The motions, by SNP councillor William Grant and Labour councillor Duncan Townson, raised concerns over the lack of detail in the cabinet report.

However, both councillors also insisted that their groups were happy with the overall idea of bringing the airshow back.

Councillor Grant said there was a "lack of clarity" around the event and suggested there was a lack of work around costs such as the running of the event village, council staff and other costs.

He also questioned whether officers were confident that the event would be self sustaining during the cost of living crisis.

Jane Bradley, SAC's director of strategic change and communities, told the panel that there was confidence based on the costs of the previous shows.

She explained that the cabinet decision had been necessary to allow officials  to do the planning work being requested by the panel.

Tourism portfolio holder Councillor Alec Clark backed the plan, adding that in the past the council had "handed over a cheque for £250k without any management control".

He said: “I think the big difference now is that we have an in-house management structure and can make income where we didn’t before.”

Cllr Townson also focused on the spending at a time of financial crisis, while insisting he was fully behind a ‘viable’ airshow.

He said: “I am concerned about the timing and the £14m black hole in council finances, the cost of living crisis, rising fuel costs and whether or not this will benefit the local economy.”

He suggested that the costs were not fully investigated, with no reference to policing costs, parking attendants, clean up crews in he plans.

Cllr Townson also sought assurances that the event would help Ayr businesses, rather than take footfall away from the town centre.

Ms Bradley responded: “We will ensure local businesses are given first option in the [event] village itself.”

She added that the event would be spread over a number of days to encourage people to stay in the area, using hotels, shops and restaurants.