Aycliffe independent councillor Arun Chandran’s passionate plea to reconsider the decision to reject Russ Gibson’s Aycliffe Show application was narrowly defeated during Wednesday night’s council meeting.
Cllr Chandran asked his independent and Labour colleagues to at least reconsider the application – insisting they had “nothing to lose – but everything to gain”.
And although his amendment to send the application back to the recreation committee won the support of six independent and three Labour councillors, 13 other Labour councillors rubber-stamped town clerk Andrew Bailey’s recommendation to end any hopes of a 2018 revival.
“We believe the recreation committee should meet with the show organisers to discuss in public any questions, doubts, reservations or concerns it has with their proposals,” said Cllr Chandran on Wednesday night.
“It is right that the recreation committee should afford them a further opportunity to them to answer all or any questions that the officers and councillors have.
“In an open, face-to-face meeting, officers and councillors would be able to ask questions on all and every aspect that might be of concern, in a free, friendly and frank discussion.
“Thus it would become clear then, and only then, if the proposal was workable and had merit, or that it was not viable with every doubt or question answered or not; a meeting of minds, to try to overcome obstacles to achieve something of use to our community.
“Without such a meeting, there will always be the perception in the public’s mind, as to why they were not allowed to put their case, to explain and detail any concern the council has, in a formal but friendly meeting.
“The council has nothing to lose by doing this – indeed, it has everything to gain – and by doing so, the whole council will then be seen to have acted fairly and transparently with the organisers, having given them every opportunity to present their case, to persuade the council to support them.
“The press and public would see this to be the case, and there’d be no justifiable recriminations.
“We can jointly, as councillors and officers, try to work with the organisers to surmount any obstacles that may exist. Everything is possible if we just keep thinking. Nothing worthwhile is easy.
“A wise man, or woman, could not reject a person’s suggestions simply because they don’t like the person making them. There should be no party political issue on this – it wasn’t in any manifesto or election leaflet and there was no mandate. Indeed, our own Member of Parliament (Phil Wilson) is also requesting that you support this reconsideration.
“We’re not committing anyone to anything. But we are keeping an open mind, and we’d be seen to have examined every possibility of the return of the Great Aycliffe Show, with or without the council giving any form of assistance.
“We should not close our minds to the possibilities, and we owe it to the residents of our town to try to make things happen, especially if it serves the public interest and if there’s no or a low cost to the council, so we can enrich the community in which we serve.
“From the town council’s point of view, the question should be ‘what can we do to help?’.
“I don’t believe in a no-win situation. I hope and invite our colleagues on the Labour benches to join us tonight and make this unanimous.”
Councillors Chandran, Ken Robson, Paul Symons, Sally Symons, Irene Hewitson, Dorothy Bowman (independents) and Cllrs Eddy Adam, John Clare and Barbara Clare (Labour) voted to reconsider.
But councillors Martyn Ashcroft, Jim Atkinson, Kathy Beetham, John Clark, Mary Dalton, Bob Fleming, Ian Gray, Brian Hall, Dave Hardaker, Jed Hillary, Wendy Hillary, Malcolm Iveson, Sarah Iveson and Val Raw all toed the Labour Party line. Councillor Sandra Haigh abstained from the vote.