The county’s biggest agricultural event, The Lincolnshire Show, is under threat after a row with local authorities wanting to end their tax relief benefits.
West Lindsey District Council is taking court action to remove the show’s charitable rate relief.
The Lincolnshire Agricultural Society (LAS), a non-profit making charitable organisation that educates people across the county about food, farming and a sustainable environment, is fighting this action.
Because of the work it does for the Lincolnshire community, the LAS has had an 80% charitable rate relief for decades, but this has now been called into question by the council – which has taken the matter to court.
Chairman of the LAS, Jane Hiles, says this could result in an increased cost of £70,000 a year, meaning higher prices and smaller events in the future. As a non-profit organisation, the LAS does not make money from its events or endeavours, including the Lincolnshire Show.
She added: “We do not make a profit on the Lincolnshire Show. It is a showcase event held every year for the good of the community, businesses and the farming network. It may seem that we are securely funded, but in fact our margins are extremely tight, and we have to constantly review costs.”
CEO of the Lincolnshire Showground, Jayne Southall, said: “We believe the showground plays a pivotal role in allowing the LAS to achieve its charitable objective and that, as such, the venue should qualify for the charitable rate relief that it has always historically received.
“The Lincolnshire Show requires year-round planning and organisation to ensure high standards of safety, quality and educational value and not only do we fulfil our charitable objectives with the show and the showground, but we also make a huge difference to the local economy, supporting local businesses and providing lots of temporary jobs.”
She added: “We fully intend to challenge the decision taken by West Lindsey District Council to remove charitable rate relief for the showground so that we can ensure the future of our much-loved show, charitable work and the viability of other businesses and organisations that rely on our events and venue for income.”
NFU East Midlands Regional Director, Gordon Corner, said: “[The LAS] plays an absolutely crucial role as an educational charity, teaching young people about the vital part farming plays in the county and the country. The innovative and exciting activities LAS puts on demonstrate not only how much work the society does but also how important it is that this progress continues.”
Employing more than 20 staff, the charity team works all year-round to meet the aims and objectives of the organisation as defined by the Charity Commission and in addition to the annual show also provides satellite educational events and activities throughout the year, benefitting thousands of local children, farmers and their families.
In addition to hosting events ran by the LAS, the showground acts as a venue for other charitable organisations such as the national Scouting Jamboree, Lincolnshire Rural Support Network and St Barnabas Hospice.
For more information visit www.lincolnshireshow.co.uk