Coffs Show under a cloud

COFFS Harbour's annual agricultural show is in doubt as the Show Society digests the news that it will cost them an up-front fee of $11,000 to book the Showground for the April 25-27 event.

In the past the Society has paid the Showground Trust 10 per cent of gate takings for venue hire and paid for electricity.

Coffs Harbour Showground Trust administrator Kate Young said the Society would have to pay a fixed price 'like any other user and the sum quoted was possibly a little cheaper than the average cost of 10 per cent of gate takings'.

To add to the shock, the Society has been billed $20,900 for past office services.

Show Society members said yesterday they did not think the Society, which had ploughed all its profits back into holding Shows and improving the Showground, had the financial resources to pay the sums asked.

Following a meeting in December between Ms Young and the Show Society executive, the Society has received a letter asking them for $20,900 as payment for an office service fee for May 2006 to November 2007 and several much smaller additional sums as well as the up-front fee for the 2008 Showground hire, $6000 of which is a refundable deposit.

Show President Darren Scells said he did not want to comment until he had read the letter but former Showground Trust member and current Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser was outraged.

Mr Fraser said the accounts failed to recognise the Show Society existed only to put on the annual show for the public benefit and all profits were spent on the following show and improving facilities on the publicly-owned Showground.

"The current moves by the administrator could make the Show Society totally unviable and as a result the annual Coffs Harbour Show could become a thing of the past," he said.

"This would then enable the government to look for other commercial returns from the Showground by way of long-term lease or sale, ignoring the great public utility this reserve provides."

The longtime secretary of both the Showground trust and the Show Society, Lorraine Tibbs, resigned from the Trust late last year.

She remains the Show Society secretary and would not comment yesterday on her departure from the Trust office.

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