IT HAS been a regular event on the gardening calendar for nearly 60 years and attracted enthusiasts from across the UK.

But one of Scotland’s premier gardening events, The Ayr Flower Show, has been scrapped due to a row over council funding in a move which organisers say will cost the local economy £1.5 million a year.

The Board of Ayrshire Horticultural Society, which has organised the show since 2001, has announced it will be cancelled this year and is unlikely ever to take place again.

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It follows weeks of negotiating with South Ayrshire Council over a £20,000 cash sum to help run the show.

The council has now refused to help fund the show and organisers have decided to scrap the event which has run every year, except one, since 1961. Campaigners say South Ayrshire has supported the Scottish International Airshow with £200,000 this year.

Show chairman John Walker said: “Ayr Flower Show has been a great success for the past 56 years with only one hiatus in 2000. This sad outcome is a loss to community effort and spirit, the fabric of our town and its heritage as well as the contribution to the economy.”

The three-day event at Rozelle Park in Alloway attracted 30,000 visitors from throughout Scotland and the UK.

Lesley Bloomer, of South Ayrshire Council said: “We wholly recognise the huge amount of work the Board of Ayrshire Horticultural Society has undertaken in running Ayr Flower Show over the past 16 years.

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“During this period, we worked closely with the board to provide support for them to look at alterations to their business model to improve the sustainability of the event; however, this did not lead to any significant improvement in their financial position.

“The board’s statement is disappointing as it’s fair to say that our support allowed the Flower Show to continue for longer than may have been feasible otherwise. However, we appreciate how sad and difficult it must be for them to take the decision that the current business model cannot continue.”