Launceston’s show will not go on.
Royal Launceston Show Society board members are devastated that their last-ditch effort to save the event has been knocked back by City of Launceston council.
The society presented council with a proposal to buy back its lease at the Launceston Showgrounds, which it would lease back on an annual basis for a one-day event from 2018.
Councillors discussed the proposal in a closed meeting on Monday and notified the society it would not support the plan late on Wednesday afternoon.
Society president Jock Gibson said this decision meant Royal Launceston Show could not continue.
“The proposal was a win-win for all parties. We were willing to sell them the lease for less than the cost of valuation so our creditors would be paid quickly,” Mr Gibson said.
The society would not divulge how much debt it was in, but the financial situation meant it could not keep going.
“We’re not in a position to hold a show next year,” Mr Gibson said.
“The council was aware that this was our last option. We made it clear to them that if this didn’t get passed then we wouldn’t be in a position to go on,” he said.
An emergency board meeting will be scheduled in the next few days.
“The board will have to make a decision about what happens from here,” Mr Gibson said.
Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said councillors agreed it was not fair or reasonable for ratepayers to continue funding the Royal Launceston Show, and voted to deny the society’s request.
“As a council, we believe we’ve acted in good faith and in the best interests of the community to help support the Royal Launceston Show,” Mr van Zetten said.
“Clearly, the Royal Launceston Show is not the success it once was. Falling patronage and changing community expectations have taken their toll on the event.
“We also consider further investment to be an unreasonable and unjustifiable risk to ratepayer funds.”
The show has been running for 144 years.