A FLOWER show which puts the region’s horticulture community on the map has been cancelled.
Gateshead Summer Flower Show, held in the region for the last 23 years, has fallen victim to council cuts.
Gateshead Council needs to make savings of £30m over the next two years and said it was “not a decision that has been taken lightly”.
The much-loved annual show, which was due to be held between July 26 and 28, had grown to become one of the UK’s biggest horticultural events.
While campaigners saved the event a year ago, the council said in 2013 it is facing “exceptionally challenging circumstances because of the Government’s spending cuts”.
David Hall, director of the Halls of Heddon nursery in Heddon on the Wall, said the loss of the show was a huge blow for the North East.
The nursery was awarded Best Trade Exhibit in Show two years running.
“We met a lot of our customers at the show and it was a good place to showcase what we do,” he said.
“We will miss the camaraderie and meeting other traders on such a neutral territory.
“The show will be a big miss and I think it is a shame for the region as much as anything, but unfortunately this is the state of things at the moment and how we get around it I don’t know.”
Service director of libraries, sport and culture, Ann Borthwick, said: “After careful consideration, we have decided that we will no longer be staging Gateshead Summer Flower Show. This will happen from this year, 2013.
“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly. The show has been held for over 20 years and has helped Gateshead Council achieve a reputation for horticultural excellence.
“We know that many residents and visitors will miss this popular event but we have had to take some really difficult budget decisions based around our priority of continuing to deliver essential services.
“We are currently writing out to and emailing all traders, stall holders and others who are involved in the show and who will be affected by this decision.
“Gateshead Council would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their valued support to Gateshead Summer Flower Show over the past 20 years.”
As part of the authority’s budget cuts around 224 jobs will be lost as well as volunteers to run five libraries and charges will be introduced for some previously free services, including bulky waste collection and pest control.
Funding for Bill Quay Farm has been cut and it faces closure in July.
Mick Henry, leader of the Labour-run council, said: “These are tough times and we have had some tough choices to make.
“But despite significantly reduced resources, we’re determined to do all we can to support people in need and continue investing in the successful regeneration of our borough.”
This is not a decision that has been taken lightly. The show has been held for over 20 years