The row over the funding of the new Ayr international airshow will rumble on, just as the dates for next September’s event were revealed.

Last week, the Audit and Governance Panel, which scrutinises South Ayrshire Council operations, accepted almost all of the decisions made by the Cabinet at the start of November, including that the £300k per year allocation to the event be considered as part of the 2023/24 budget.

However, it did request that a ‘robust’ report into the costs of the event be brought to the panel in February, ahead of the budget meeting in March.

But that was dismissed by the cabinet, meaning the report will now go to the full council for decision later this month.

The airshow is pencilled in for Saturday, September 9, with events set to be held on both Friday 8 and Sunday 10 in a bid to attract visitors to a weekend of festivities.

When the cabinet approved the plans for the airshow on November 1, officers insisted they were confident that they could be close to breaking even in the early events before eventually making a profit.

However, at the Audit and Governance meeting held last week, indicative figures revealed that there would be a shortfall of more than £200,000 without the council’s financial support.

Councillor Alec Clark, who holds the Tourism portfolio on the cabinet, argued that the council couldn’t afford to delay ‘given the size and importance’ of the event.

However, he did not elaborate on why the requested report to the panel would create a delay.

Cllr Peter Henderson, Chair of the Audit and Governance Panel, was invited to explain the panel’s position.

He said that the recommendation of Audit and Governance was made in order to allow the planning to continue without a delay.

Cllr Bob Pollock then asked Cllr Henderson to explain what assessment was carried out during the last administration ‘which actually ran at a loss’.

Cllr Henderson responded that the show had been stopped because a scoping exercise had uncovered issues with the finances.

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He added that the support for the airshow had been set up under a previous Conservative administration.

Cllr Pollock also asked about a £100k debt awaiting payment from the previous airshow.

Cllr Henderson replied that the payments were due to Police Scotland and Prestwick Airport.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked South Ayrshire Council to clarify what delays would have resulted from the scoping report being prepared for the Audit and Governance Panel.

A spokesperson responded: “All members will have the opportunity to scrutinise the funding request when they receive indicative budgets as part of budget proposals.”

During the meeting Jane Bradley, Director of Strategic Change and Communities, said it would not be normal to provide a detailed financial report a year out from a major event, adding that any assessment would remain indicative until the event itself.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked for details of assessments made during planning for similar large launch events.

A council spokesperson responded: “The council have delivered many significant events such as Burnsfest, Christmas switch on events, the Holy Fair, Armed Forces and Pipes in Park and Burns on the Beach, and officers have supported the delivery of a range of partnership events such as Tamfest and R&A Open Golf Tournaments.

“While these are not as large as a potential air show, nonetheless they do require officers to develop indicative financial projections based on previous events and using the expertise of officers and others involved in the delivery.”

Cllr Henderson responded to the council’s comments.

He said: “The answers do not illuminate why the scoping can’t be done by February as we suggested as the budget will only be taken in March.

“With no clear costs for a major international event I do think it is unwise in the current financial climate to make a £1.5m commitment on indicative costs only.

“No one is criticising officers and the name sponsor etc are all agreed all that is sought is a detailed projection of cost and potential benefit before that commitment."

He also claimed that Cllr Clark’s comments could be seen to suggest that the that the scale and importance of the event was enough justification for not taking account of current budget cuts on not providing an assessment of the cost benefits it would bring to South Ayrshire’s trade and tourism.

The airshow report will be considered by the full council in two weeks.