SURPRISE and disappointment have been expressed across the board at the shock news revealed on Tuesday that Arbroath Events will not produce any more Seafront Spectaculars.
For the last eight years the hugely successful show has packed the crowds into Victoria Park for a day-long presentation of entertainments, stalls, vehicles, sideshows and displays. And the show has also generated cash which has been disbursed to local charities.
The directors, Ann Birse, Jean Stewart, Howard Cargill and Wilson Robson, released a brief statement in which they said: “In view of the recent disparaging and somewhat libellous comments that have appeared on social networking sites and in the local press, we have had enough.
“We have decided to call it a day and we will not be producing any further events.”
Their decision comes in the face of criticism on a social networking site over the cost of entry to the show which this year was ￡£5 for adults and ￡£2 per children.
Mr Cargill explained that the budget to present the Seafront Spectacular was £51,000 and stated that a high percentage of the total was taken up by health and safety costs.
Mike Weir MP was extremely disappointed to learn that the Seafront Spectacular will not go ahead next year.
He commented: “I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in organising the Spectacular over the years as it takes a great deal of time and effort to ensure the smooth safe running of an event this size.
“The Spectacular will be a huge loss to the Angus events calendar as it continued to draw in thousands of visitors from outwith Arbroath.”
And Angus South MSP Graeme Dey said he was shocked that the organising committee had felt it necessary to take this course of action.
He said: “The Seafront Spectacular has been an integral part of the summer programme in Arbroath for many years now.
“As with so many similar events, it was dependent on the goodwill and commitment of a small band of organisers.
“I can sympathise with volunteers who are subjected to criticism after giving so much of their time to make the event successful.”
Arbroath councillor Alex King said he was deeply disappointed to hear that the Seafront Spectacular will not take place next year.
He went on: “Arbroath can ill afford to lose such a well run and well organised visitor attraction but it is not surprising that the small group who have run the Spectacular have decided to call it a day in the face of the vociferous criticism which has appeared over the past couple of weeks.
“The dedicated group of volunteers who have given so much of their time and effort over the years deserved the wholehearted support of the town – not ill informed carping about the price of entry.
“Had those complaining about the entry costs bothered to check what is being charged at other venues around Scotland they would have found that the prices for the Seafront Spectacular were at the lower end of the scale.
“Entry to the Dundee Flower and Food festival for example is £10 with concessions, including children, at £9!
“A visit to Dunnottar Castle - with no entertainment laid on - costs £5 for adults and £2 for children with no senior citizen concessions!”
Councillor King continued: “It is sad that the annual efforts of the handful of hardworking volunteers who organised the Spectacular, and which were greatly appreciated by the many thousands of visitors who attended the shows over the years, have been brought to an end by the vicious criticism levelled by a selfish few.
“My heart goes out to the small band of volunteers who now feel that they can no longer continue to organise what was a popular and well attended event.”
Councillor Peter Nield said: “It has come as a great surprise and shock that the Arbroath Events committee is no longer willing to produce the Seafront Spectacular.
“I can only assume that this is because of the complaints and comments after this year’s event which were totally out of order.
“I hope that those who made the comments take time to reflect on their actions and the loss to Arbroath of the Spectacular being discontinued.
“I would like to publicly express my thanks to the committee for what they have done over the years. It is a sad reflection on what seems to be a national disease of being critical rather than supportive.”
Councillor Jim Millar said: “The news that this will be the last Seafront Spectacular is a bitter disappointment. Over the years, this event has provided thrills and entertainment for many thousands of people, and brought a much needed boost to the local economy.
“Members of the committee who put this event together work extremely hard, and I have worked with them on other projects such as mediaeval markets and Viking raids, and I would like to pay tribute to their dedication and enthusiasm in promoting our town.
“I hope they reconsider their decision to end the event, but I fully understand how they must feel in light of some of the comments posted on Shaun Sievwright’s ‘Against the Seafront Spectacular’ page.”
Arbroath Herald editor Brian Stormont said: “Arbroath Events have done some fantastic work over the years which has been recognised in the Angus Ambassador of the Year Awards and quite rightly so.
“Therefore, I was shocked and disappointed to be informed of the decision on Tuesday.
“I would hope that they would reconsider because their efforts really help to put the town on the map every year.”
He continued: “From the newspaper standpoint, we were informed of the campaign against charges and as we were aware the organisers were being heavily criticised on Facebook, we believed it was only right that we gave them the opportunity to answer these criticisms in their local newspaper.
“The line taken in the initial article was the organisers defending the charges and explaining the reasons why they had to have an admission fee in an effort to help bring an end to the criticism.
“We have been criticised for covering the story, but it was in the public domain and we felt duty bound to report it as a newspaper of record.
“Our editorial last week gave our support to the hardworking committee and volunteers and I can say, honestly, that we believed we were doing the right thing by giving Arbroath Events the opportunity to defend themselves. We also gave the Spectacular a two-page spread with report and pictures inside.”