Fraserburgh’s Super Saturday events have been axed after councillors decided to pull funding.
They were launched in 2013 when a group of independent retailers united in an effort to improve footfall in the town.
Four events were held in the first year and six have been held each year ever since, garnering much praise, providing a showcase for businesses, stall, colour and fun events.
The scheme was even nominated for national regeneration awards and recognised in the Scottish Parliament as an example of community best practice.
But the £160,000 funding allocated by the council from the Regeneration Action Plan – which was originally committed to continue throughout 2019 – has now been cut off.
And that forced Fraserburgh Development Trust (FDT) to announce last night that the first event of 2019, which would have taken place on Saturday May 11, had been cancelled.
Councillors said that while the event had once been successful it had grown stale and was no linger delivering the same benefits to the town.
Super Saturday coordinator Alison Noble took to social media to announce news of the funding blow on the trust’s Facebook page.
She wrote: “Aberdeenshire Council have notified Fraserburgh Development Trust that regeneration funding for Fraserburgh Super Saturdays has not been awarded for 2019.
“This means of course immediately that the first event planned for May 11 has had to be cancelled at short notice.
“As you will know Aberdeenshire Council are the principal funder of Super Saturdays.
“Obviously we are very disappointed but have no choice but to cancel.”
Ms Noble went on to thank everyone in the community for their “help and support” during her tenure.
Locals responded to the decision with a series of angry and dismayed comments, calling it “astounding news”, “disgusting” and questioning “Fraserburgh hit again?”.
The Super Saturdays office relocated into the FDT building on Fraserburgh’s High Street at the end of March, displaying pictures of previous events and the dates of future Super Saturdays.
Now these are unlikely to go ahead.
In a statement, Aberdeenshire Council said it was “disappointed” to have taken the decision to cut the funding but believed it was providing diminishing benefits.
A spokesman said: “Aberdeenshire Council is disappointed to confirm that it has taken the difficult decision to withdraw its funding to the Fraserburgh Development Trust in support of the Fraserburgh Super Saturdays project with immediate effect.
“The council has become increasingly concerned over the past 12-18 months about the reduced number of people attending the events and the decreasing number and variety of stalls.
“We have an obligation to ensure that it obtains good value for public money and that its economic development investments can show high impact in the town.
“The Council acknowledges the hard work that has been undertaken by the Development Trust and their volunteers in delivering the Super Saturday events over the last few years and wishes to place on record its appreciation to everyone involved in the project.
“We apologise to anyone impacted by this decision and will now work with the Development Trust to ensure any negative impacts are minimised.”
Funds already awarded but currently unspent will be reinvested in other Fraserburgh projects.
Councillor Charles Buchan confessed he too was disappointed but admitted there had been a downturn in attendance.
And he said councillors had voted unanimously to withdraw financial support.
He said: “The work the FDT did was very good and their organisers worked very hard – it’s so disappointing that it will no longer run.
“Some traders thought their takings went up on Super Saturday days but others weren’t sure.
“It was exceptionally popular at the start but as the novelty has worn off and in recent times the support maybe hasn’t been what it once was.”
Councillor and chairman of the Banff and Buchan Area Committee, Andy Kille, said: “The ward three members all reluctantly supported the decision to end the funding as Super Saturday had not made the progress we had hoped it would over the last year.”