A Southampton MP is calling on civic chiefs to make a U-turn over the decision to cancel two boat shows in the city.
Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, is urging Southampton City Council to reverse its decision and allow the Southampton International Boat Show and the Ocean Village Boat Show to go ahead.
Eleventh hour cancellation
The news comes as both events were due to start this morning, but last night, the city council put the brakes on them amid Coronavirus fears.
The council said the decision was “regrettable” but due to the increased spread of Covid-19 nationally it “cannot allow the events to take place this month”.
On Wednesday the Government announced that from Monday (14th) it will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than six.
Organisers devastated by news
Organisers said to be “perplexed” with the decision and described the news as “devastating”.
Mr Smith fears that some companies would lose their businesses following last night’s decision.
He is urging the council to tell organisers whether there is any adjustment that needs to be made and allow the shows to go ahead.
Smith: I am embarrassed by this council
“If there are reasons why they thought this was not safe tell them what they are and let the show go ahead.
“If this was dangerous it was dangerous two months ago or last week, it was not dangerous at seven o’clock last night.
“I am embarrassed by this council. I have no confidence left in this city council at all.”
20,000 people expected
He said the organisers ensured all social distancing measures will be adhered to.
About 20,000 people were expected to flock to the city over the next ten days to attend the events.
Smith: Council have trashed even tiniest green shoots of recovery
But Mr Smith said:
“Not content with making our city inaccessible, the council have trashed even the tiniest green shoots of recovery. This council looks like it is going out of its way to damage what is left of Southampton’s economy and throw thousands of hardworking people to the wolves.”
It is understood the organisers could appeal the council’s decision and the government could override it.
But it is not yet known whether organisers will appeal.
Chase: “Concerning” rise in Coronavirus cases
Last night Debbie Chase, director of public health at the city council, said the decision was taken following a “concerning” rise in Coronavirus cases across the country and “after detailed analysis of the public health risks”.
The city council has been approached for comment.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © Southampton Boat Show