Southampton BOATS2020: Appeal against axed boat shows fails

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BOATS2020 siteImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The events were set to start on September 11 - they were cancelled on the evening of September 10

An appeal against the decision to shut down two boat shows has been unsuccessful.

Hours before they were due to open on 11 September, BOATS2020, and sailing show MDL Ocean Village were axed by order of Southampton City Council.

Organisers had asked the Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to review the local authority's decision.

The events had been expected to attract 20,000 people to the city over 10 days.

Lesley Robinson, chief executive of British Marine which organised BOATS2020, 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."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Staff put up screens across signs at the Boats2020 show in Southampton following the cancellation of the event

Southampton City Council's director of public health Debbie Chase said she was "pleased" the decision to stop the shows taking place had been upheld.

"Unfortunately the rise in cases in recent days meant that the council had to make that difficult decision at very short notice. We have to do everything we can to contain the spread of the virus and protect residents and businesses from an even more damaging local lockdown."

The authority said permission for the show was granted earlier in the year "with a clear direction that it could be cancelled at any time due to Covid-19".

The annual Southampton International Boat Show, which has been held in the city for more than 50 years and last year saw 100,000 visitors, was postponed because of the pandemic and replaced with the smaller events.

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