MIDDLESBROUGH COUNCIL: Cleveland Show to end
Andy Preston, independent Mayor of Middlesbrough. Picture taken from Middlesbrough Borough Council website.
The Cleveland Show is set to end following failed attempts to secure sponsorship which has led to bitter comments between the mayor and a councillor.
Cllr Tom Mawston, chair of the show’s board, said that a majority decision had been made by members to not hold any further events due to a lack of funding.
However, Mayor Andy Preston has said that he doesn’t believe it has to be the end.
Mr Preston also said that a businessperson who was potentially going to invest in the show claimed that the organisers were disorganised.
In response, Cllr Mawston said: “That person did not make that known to us, he assured us it was possible and he didn’t do it and that’s all the contact we had with him.”
According to the councillor, during a meeting with the mayor and Tony Parkinson, it was claimed that the businessperson would be able to find £50,000 to support the show.
Cllr Mawston said: “This person went on to confirm that this was an easy amount for him to raise. We were let down badly when he literally abandoned us.
“We then approached the Tees Valley Combined Authority, which led to their officers encouraging us to make an application. For 18 months we were asked for more information all the while being assured that funds were there for us.
“Their final answer was, sorry, you don’t fit the criteria. Despite the setbacks we continued to try and put on the show, the final nail in the coffin was the Covid pandemic.
“This is the end of the Cleveland Show which has played a major part in the lives of the organisers, competitors and visitors.”
Even prior to the Covid pandemic the show was struggling after just 1,000 people attended the event, which was hit by heavy rain, in 2019.
During its busier times, the show was visited by more than 20,000 people.
Ahead of the event, organisers had already warned that rising costs, decreasing sponsorship and bad weather left its future uncertain.
The show is not-for-profit, self-funded, and reliant on volunteers.
Cllr Joan McTigue also asked whether anything else could be done and said that the council couldn’t sit back and do nothing.
Cllr Mawston responded: “There is no way the show can go now. There is no more Cleveland Show, that’s it, finished. We have tried desperately.”
The event originally started 77 years ago as the Stockton Show in Ropner Park back in 1944 before it moved to its current home in Stewart Park in 1963.
Mr Preston believes that there was not enough publicity around the show’s closure.
He added: “I do appreciate all of the efforts the volunteers make and the commitment of time.
“I don’t doubt a word that you say but I do find it hard to believe. I haven’t seen an appeal for help, I haven’t seen an appeal out there for business people to join or from community leaders to join.
“All I heard, that was some time ago, you were seeking help but it was quite muted.”
In response, Cllr Mawston said: “We made the appeal to yourself mayor. We have failed to get this help, we failed to get the help from the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
“We tried, believe me, we tried. This was a last-ditch thing, we couldn’t do any more.
“We have had no help, apart from we have had support from Middlesbrough Council. We were not given financial support in the way some other events were, but we have tried, we failed, it’s closed.”
Words: Emily Craigie, local Democracy Reporter
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