Council rejects blame as Best of the West festival cancelled

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It has become a highlight of the Argyll festival scene, but Best of the West will not happen this year, say organisers.

And the blame is being placed at the door of Argyll and Bute Council and other unnamed potential funders for failing to support the music and food extravaganza, held in the shadow of Inveraray Castle.

The Duke and Duchess of Argyll have hosted the event for eight years

The local authority, however, claims it was never a primary funder of the event.

First held in 2011, the Best of the West festival was intended to promote the best talent and products of Argyll, and organisers claim it has brought in more than £1 million annually to the local economy.

One of the event’s prime movers has been Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll, who said: ‘The reality is that we receive no government support and Argyll and Bute Council has withdrawn its financial assistance whilst providing significant funding to other similar events.

‘Funding available from some local community sources has also been consistently denied despite the proven local interest and economic benefits.

‘In the eight years of the festival it attracted well over 30,000 visitors to Argyll, an area reliant on tourism and the festival had become a well known addition to the Scottish festival calendar.

‘This local economic boost was delivered at the direct cost and risk to Argyll Estates. The festival was never a profit-making event and all returns, if any, were ploughed back in to the festival pot for the following year.

‘Many individuals put substantial efforts into making it a great event for the past eight years and the festival is indebted to all the supporters and sponsors, old and new, who helped make the Best of the West happen.

‘I wish all festivals and events in Argyll all the best for 2019 and onwards; I know they do a fantastic job in promoting the area and look forward to attending and enjoying some of them with my family.

‘I know many people, including our supporters, employees, local businesses and those who planned to attend this year will be greatly disappointed, but it is best to let everyone know now.’

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘We are disappointed that Best of the West will not go ahead this year.

‘We provide funding where possible for events, however it should be noted that our contribution to this festival has been low level and on an ad-hoc basis, rather than as a key partner.

‘Given ongoing cuts to our budgets, expectations of councils have to be realistic and events have to be commercially sustainable.’