The Scottish International Airshow 2020
South Ayrshire Council have withdrawn the funding and "in kind" support of the 2020 Scottish International Airshow in Ayr. We now have no choice but to cancel all the aircraft and displays booked for the 2020 Airshow. We have to cancel hundreds of hotel rooms and dozens of sub contractors who would have brought significant economic and tourism benefits to Ayrshire once again. We will be contacting everyone who has bought pitches or tickets and arranging refunds.
The Scottish International Airshow could only work as a partnership between some hard working and visionary people in South Ayrshire Council and the small Airshow team and wonderful volunteers, who together have built an amazing event from nothing to a European class Airshow in less than five years.
Since 2013 we have worked with a series of people in South Ayrshire Council. In total we had multiple detailed planning and operational meetings with eight key people - seven of them are no longer in post. The Council Leader and deputy Leader have also changed and have limited understanding of how the Airshow has been built and run as a partnership between Airshow Scotland Ltd and South Ayrshire Council. All of our 2020 Airshow company's core team have been working together since 2014 and have in depth knowledge of how the event was set up and the practical steps and agreements that have successfully delivered five massive Airshows in Ayr.
We asked to meet with South Ayrshire Council leaders numerous times to talk about the dispute with the Airshow. They would not meet with us.
We asked that we attend the meeting of the Councillors last week to explain what has happened and why the Airshow could still go ahead. They refused to talk to us and held their meeting in private. The reason that one local resident was given for holding the meeting in private was that they were going to discuss the finances surrounding the Airshow contract, which was exactly what we had asked to discuss with them, so we remain puzzled as to why meeting with us was not the best course of action. We have no idea what information and advice they were given and we despair at the lack of leadership shown in the Council's actions.
We did ask that the Council talk to us before they send out any press statements. They haven't spoken with us or contacted us or sent us a copy of their statements.
There were no breaches of the Airshow contract.
The payment that was made to start the Airshow work for 2020 was not made in error. It was fully discussed between the Airshow and the Council. We understand it was then discussed within the Council and authorised under their normal processes.
South Ayrshire Council released a statement about the Airshow without our knowledge. We did not want a media exchange of views and offered numerous times to meet in private and address any concerns. As South Ayrshire Council's leadership team or Councillors refuse to meet us we have no option but to publicly answer the points made in their latest statement which was issued as a press release on 20th February 2020.
RESPONSE FROM The Airshow (Scotland) Ltd / TSIA 2020 TEAM
We'd like to go through the SAC statement made on 20th February point by point, so we clearly address all of the claims made.
"We are disappointed that the organisers of The Scottish International Airshow have breached their funding agreement with us." SAC Press release
We dispute there was a breach of the contract and have disputed this for months. Our attempts to discuss the matter with the Council Leadership were met with refusals to meet or even talk on the phone. SAC promised £250,000 of funding towards TSIA 2020 which would have had a total cost of approximately £500,000 to run.
A SAC officer alleged that TSIA had committed a number of breaches of contract and we have written in detail to the Council and Councillors with our complete rebuttal and provided evidence to back up our position.
"This has left us with no choice other than to withdraw our funding for The Scottish International Airshow, and to terminate our contract with the event organisers." SAC Press release
This is not the case. The Council was given four reasoned options by TSIA
1. The alleged breach could go to litigation - SAC chose to avoid this.
2. The alleged breach could go to arbitration - this was allowed for in the contract itself. SAC did not want to go down this route.
3. The TSIA 2020 Airshow event could continue with a minor alteration to the operation of the contract. This alteration would reflect the reality of what had happened with the full knowledge and endorsement of the Council officers looking after the Airshow and be in line with the way the Airshow had been operated since 2014. The option to continue with the TSIA 2020 event was a clear and viable option.
4. The final option was to cancel the funding and withdraw support for the Airshow, in effect cancelling the Airshow. That was the choice of South Ayrshire Council. For SAC to say that there was no other option than to cancel the Airshow funding is untrue. This was a choice made by South Ayrshire Council.
"We made an advanced payment of £80,000 in error to the organisers, and on 2 December 2019, and again on 9 December 2019, we asked the organisers how this money had been spent." SAC Press release
There was one payment to TAS Ltd of £80k. This was in response to TAS Ltd emailing the Council in August 2019 requesting an advance payment of Grant Funding of £80k. This was part of the total Grant Funding of £250k promised to TAS Ltd to deliver TSIA 2020. Advance payment of Grant Funding has been paid in every other Airshow and it is used for initial payments and guarantee of contract commitments. That included commitments from the 2018 Airshow as part of the same contract. It also allowed us to pay for office accommodation and dedicated staff before income starts coming in from sponsors, pitch sales, tickets, catering, merchandising and advertising. These were exactly the cash flow arrangements that had successfully delivered all the other Airshows and were fully understood by those with experience of the previous partnership approach between South Ayrshire Council and the Airshow. The income from the above sales is shown historically to quickly overtake the Grant money and supply the required positive cash flow for the delivery of the Airshow. When the Airshow is delivered 100% of the Grant money will be shown as being spent on invoiced expenditure only associated with the 2020 Airshow.
The payment was made by SAC on the authorisation of a senior SAC officer appointed to liaise with the TSIA team and with authority to arrange the payment as requested. We understand that the payment was discussed internally in SAC and the payment legitimately authorised as in all previous years. No payment was made in error.
This was indeed an alteration to the contract BUT it was requested by TSIA and fully authorised within SAC. Both parties knew this at the time.
We explained clearly why we needed the payment in good faith and we believed the payment was made by SAC in good faith so we could proceed with the work on TSIA 2020, which is what then happened.
We also detailed exactly how the money was expended, as we have done for five similar TSIA events down to the last detail - in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
SAC have all the documents and detailed financial accounts. We have been completely transparent with SAC in all these events.
• "The organisers did not provide us with this information." SAC Press release
This is incorrect. We did, and in detail. While it may not have been within the timescale that the Council initially requested, it was provided after we had clarity of the Council's request and well before the Councillors met to cancel the Airshow contract. At no time did the Council ask for clarification of any points of the information we supplied.
• "We then asked the organisers to repay the £80,000 and they did not repay this." SAC Press release
We invoiced for the £80,000, as agreed, and as in line with previous years. We then received the payment, as authorised by SAC. Months of work was then done on the event by our team, booking aircraft, making hotel contracts, setting up the website, etc. for 2020, meaning the money had been allocated in the advance work that was exactly the same as all previous years.
• "The organisers agreed that they would have reserve funds to support the 2020 event to be able to pay their contractors, but they repeatedly told us that they did not have these funds." SAC Press release
We told SAC we did not have these funds in August 2019, which was the reason for requesting the contract be varied and an advance of £80k paid. We reiterated that in October 2019 as it was perfectly normal in our cash flow cycle and we would have the funds in early 2020. The Airshow TSIA 2018, as an individual Airshow, was in profit but it did not make enough to completely cover the deficit carried over from TSIA 2017. We told SAC this in 2018 and reported clearly in the detailed financial reports given to SAC after TSIA 2018. It is unfortunate if SAC failed to analyse this data nor do effective handovers of this data after a churn of staff where we were now no longer working with anyone from SAC we had worked with on the TSIA 2018 event. "When the organisers did provide us with their financial information, on 5 February 2020, it was clear that the £80,000 was being used to pay off debts from the 2018 event." SAC Press release
This statement completely ignores what had been declared and agreed between the Council and the Airshow. The money was being used towards TSIA 2020. The £80k enabled a positive cash flow and allowed income to be generated from advance sales for the 2020 Airshow. That income would allow agreed payments to Police Scotland for a remaining amount from 2018.
An agreed and ongoing payment schedule to Police Scotland was the only outstanding external creditor. SAC officers had been advised of this in 2018 after the TSIA 2018 event and the payment schedule was communicated and understood by all parties. We have a very good relationship with Police Scotland and an agreement to pay them over an agreed period is a normal commercial activity.
TAS Ltd / TSIA has always paid all its many contractors and creditors under the terms and schedule of contracts.
"These are all breaches of the funding agreement." SAC Press release
There is actually no separate "funding agreement" there is only the contract. This contract is in the public domain and can be read by anybody.
If this suggests there were breaches of the contract then that is also incorrect.
We dispute all alleged breaches of contract.
"The organisers were unable to confirm to us that they could run the 2020 event in line with the agreement, and we are shocked that they still have outstanding payments due to creditors for the 2018 event." SAC Press release
We are extremely frustrated at this SAC statement.
We had told SAC officers clearly in documents and emails that we could run the event in line with the agreement with a small alteration to allow one advance payment, in line with previous years. We explained this numerous times and it was clear from accounting information sent to SAC as far back as 2018 after the TSIA 2018 event. The fine detail of all our Airshow planning, including all financial matters is discussed at our regular Airshow management meetings. These total about 18 per year and a representative of SAC was invited to attend each of these meetings. SAC attended four meetings in the year. At no point was there any concern expressed about the 2020 Airshow or the payment schedule agreed with Police Scotland.
At SAC's request in 2017 we invited them to have a Director on our company Board. A Director would have every detail of all company activity available to them and would influence all operations of the Airshow. We briefed all Councillors at the time and invited SAC to nominate a Councillor as a Director. No Councillor volunteered to join the Airshow Board of Directors.
For clarity, there is ONLY one outstanding creditor from TSIA 2018 - Police Scotland - with whom we had an agreed payment schedule.
We told SAC about this in 2018 and numerous times in 2019. It is shown in the Airshow accounting spread sheet which was given to SAC as part of the completely transparent operation of all Airshows since 2014.
To claim "shock" at a plainly disclosed and discussed fact is not credible.
"We have agreed that if the organisers don't pay their outstanding bills for the 2018 event, or refund their creditors, we will request repayment of the £80,000." SAC Press release
TAS Ltd / TSIA has never failed to pay anybody for anything. All our contractors for five Airshow events have been paid. We have successfully managed millions of pounds over a number of years and delivered five of the biggest annual events held in Scotland. We have honoured all our contracts and we have run these events carefully and prudently.
We have also reported all finances in detail to SAC. "We have a duty to make sure that public money is used only for agreed purposes, and in line with the correct processes." SAC Press release
We also feel a duty to do the best we can for the people of South Ayrshire and Scotland. That is why we created The Scottish International Airshow in the first place. SAC suggested and agreed £250,000 to part fund TSIA 2020. It was their desire to have the biggest Airshow ever run in Scotland and all of this grant would go towards the cost of running TSIA 2020, which could cost over £500,000 to stage. All Grant funds would be fully invoiced to pay for the 2020 Airshow as agreed in the contract.
The three-day Airshow was projected to bring in at least £3 million to the local economy, and potentially up to £6m depending on weather and other factors. "With the combination of the organisers failing to respond to our requests for information, and their breaches of the agreement, we were left with no choice but to terminate the contract, and withdraw public funding from the event." SAC Press release
We have given SAC all the information requested. If we had not responded within the timescale they wished it was partly because we repeatedly requested meetings with the Council Leaders to understand their concerns and they refused to meet with us and explain their concerns.
We have given SAC detailed financial and organisational information for five TSIA events since TSIA 2014. We have operated completely transparently in all financial and operational matters and have delivered five successful Airshows through a pragmatic partnership. SAC personnel have constantly changed and it appears that the current leadership have not read or analysed any information, with the exception of the one remaining liaison officer.
The Airshow has not breached the contract. SAC had a number of choices and one of those (and our preference) was the choice to continue with the successful delivery of TSIA 2020 as planned. That very credible option was available right up until the Councillor's decision last week. £80,000 has already been paid and the agreed £170k would complete the successful delivery of Scotland's largest ever Airshow, bringing millions of pounds and business benefit to South Ayrshire.
"If you have any questions on the future of The Scottish International Airshow please contact the event organisers."
The Directors are happy to answer any questions on TSIA. email us on email@example.com
The TSIA team delivered five great events for the people of South Ayrshire, Ayrshire and Scotland. We did our best every year and worked in partnership with many good people in South Ayrshire Council and external agencies. We couldn't have done this without the financial and in-kind support of South Ayrshire Council and there were some individuals and teams within the Council and in the wider partnership who went above-and-beyond to make the event a success in previous years and for that we are truly grateful.
The Airshow gave two clear options to the Council meeting last week, which we were denied the opportunity to attend. The first one was to continue with the Airshow with a small amendment to the contract in line with previous Airshows. This small amendment would have resulted in the Airshow going ahead as planned and agreed.
The other option, as put forward by the Council's legal team, was for SAC to withdraw support and funding for TSIA 2020. This is the option the Councillors chose. We now have no choice but to cancel all the aircraft and displays booked for the 2020 Airshow. We have to cancel hundreds of hotel rooms and dozens of sub contractors who would have brought significant benefits to Ayrshire once again. We will be contacting everyone who has bought pitches or tickets and arranging refunds. We are very sad that TSIA 2020 will not be held in Ayr and do not see the need for acrimonious press statements. It is very regrettable that this dispute has been played out in public on social media, damaging the reputation of the event, the organisers and the Council.
Can we say thank you to the hundreds of thousands of you who have supported the event over the years, whether by attending, paying for car parking, buying a programme, being part of the enthusiasts and photographers packages or just sharing your wonderful photos and experiences with us. We hope that we've inspired a next generation of pilots, engineers and aviation enthusiasts and given you all great family memories.
We are proud of the achievements of our marvellous small team and volunteers and to put our names to this statement. We hope to see you somewhere in the future.
Danny Anderson & Doug Maclean - Directors of TSIA 2020
23rd February 2020.