Steering group required to drive Mossfield upgrade forward

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A steering group is in the process of being set up with the aim of taking over the ownership of Mossfield and upgrading it into a multi-purpose stadium.

The chairman of Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance (OLTA), Neil MacKay asked Oban Community Council at its meeting on Monday night if they would back the idea.

He received the support of the community council and the four councillors present, Roddy McCuish, Kieron Green, Andrew Vennard and Julie McKenzie.

Mr MacKay also revealed that he had the support of OLTA, BID4Oban, Oban Live, as well as the Camanachd and Macaulay associations.

The events organiser, who deemed Mossfield one of the best grounds in Scotland with the worst facilities, added: ‘Shinty has to be at the fore of this.’

The issue was raised at Monday night’s meeting following the shock announcement from the Oban Live event team on Friday that there would be no event in 2020.

Started by Skerryvore in 2015, the event is Argyll’s biggest festival but the band and the event team said it was ‘taking a break’ amid concerns over the venue and doubts over funding from Argyll and Bute Council.

They added the Mossfield Park venue required improvements and questions remained on a potential revamp.

The organisers said council funding received this year had been greatly welcomed, but represented only five per cent of running costs. Adding that the festival had helped to generate £6 million for the local economy.

An Argyll and Bute council spokesperson said: ‘Oban Live 2019 received £15,000 from the council, the second highest amount granted through our Strategic Events and Festivals Fund.

‘These are tough times for councils. There are many things we would like to do, like upgrading a sports pitch into a multi-event stadium, but at the moment we are having to concentrate limited resources on delivering essential services.’

Oban and Lorn Area committee chairwoman, councillor Elaine Robertson said: ‘Oban Live has been a huge success and of massive importance to Oban.

‘The facilities at Mossfield require to be upgraded to meet modern standards and we will continue to pursue funding to enable the improvements to be realised.’

Oban Lorn and the Isles SNP councillors Jim Lynch and Julie McKenzie called on councillor Robertson to facilitate an urgent meeting of all eight local councillors with a view to finding a solution to this issue, calling it a ‘travesty for the community’.

Andrew Spence, Chief Executive of BID4Oban said: ‘Removing this event will have a significant impact to the business community of Oban across all sectors, including hospitality, retail, commercial and licensed premises.

‘BID4Oban will work tirelessly to try to fill the void and will engage with Skerryvore to see what can be salvaged.

‘We sincerely hope that Oban Live will return in the future if significant infrastructure improvements are made to Mossfield.’