Two boat shows in Southampton were cancelled at the last minute despite council officers only asking for one change to the site set-up, the organisers have said.
British Marine, which had organised the scaled-down version of the Southampton International Boat Show, has confirmed an appeal against the decision to shut down the event has been unsuccessful.
They had asked the Secretaries of State for Public Health and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to review the decision made by Southampton City Council.
The Boats2020 event and accompanying Ocean Village Boat Show – both set to run from September 11 to 20 – were cancelled by order of the local authority on the eve of the event.
The annual Southampton International Boat Show, which has been held for more than 50 years and last year saw 100,000 visitors, was postponed because of the pandemic and replaced with the smaller events which were expected to pull in 20,000 people over the 10 days.
The decision to cancel them was criticised by Royston Smith, Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, who posted on Twitter: “These events were critical to Southampton’s economy and recovery.”
A British Marine spokesman said: “Just hours before the show was due to open, on the afternoon of Thursday 10 September, Southampton City Council representatives had reviewed the show site and requested only one site amendment: to remove a panel in the site entrance security marquee to increase airflow, which was implemented immediately.
“The show plans were developed alongside Southampton City Council using the Events Industry Forum and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport guidance, Association of Events Organisers (AEO) All Secure Standard and other contributions from exhibitors and industry.”
— Southampton International Boat Show (@SotonBoatShow) September 10, 2020
Lesley Robinson, chief executive of British Marine, said: “I am saddened that our appeal has been rejected and the plight of our exhibitors and the industry has not been recognised by the Secretaries of State.
“The cancellation of the show will have a considerable financial impact on the marine industry, and also on the city of Southampton.
“We are now considering all options available and what we can do for British Marine members and all show exhibitors.”