COUNCIL leaders have shrugged off calls to scrap Ashfield Show — but have opted for a radical transformation of the event to take advantage of the upcoming Olympic Games in London.
The annual show, which costs more than £120,000 to stage, will be moved forward from August to late June or early July and will be combined with the Active Ashfield Games to capitalise on the excitement surrounding London 2012.
Ashfield District Council bosses say the move will save £20,000. But they turned down an option to save even more money by cancelling the show altogether.
A Cabinet meeting heard there was overwhelming public support for retaining Ashfield Show — with 92% of those asked saying it was good value.
Coun Gail Turner (Ind) repeated her calls to scrap the event to safeguard vital services. “If we are saving money, then I do think that’s a good step forward,” Coun Turner said. “I would take another step and I wouldn’t have Ashfield Show at the minute because of the costs.
“I would look to see how much having an extra £120,000 in the kitty would help with the jobs front and our services.”
However the Cabinet’s decision means the event will go ahead and be staged at Sutton Lawn ahead of the Olympics, which run from Friday July 27 to Sunday August 12.
According to officials, the new-look event would include a “larger, more exciting” opening ceremony for the Ashfield Active Games and could include an extension of sports and activities over two weeks.
The celebrations are set to culminate with a closing ceremony with family attractions, sports, dance, music, drama and an evening concert with fireworks.
The proposals mean that the cost of hosting the whole show will be cut by £20,000, reducing the budget to £105,500.
Deputy council leader Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, said: “Last year, Ashfield Show was a great success with thousands of Ashfield residents enjoying the delights it had to offer. This event is a valuable asset to some of the residents who would not otherwise have the means to attend such a show.”
Council leader, Coun John Knight (Lab), said: “In 2012, it is going to be even better because we are incorporating the sporting element to commemorate the Olympic Games.”