It's racism says Scot

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2013
Tom Shiels
Jess Etheridge
SAD END: Tom Shiels, of Birkdale, says the Scottish Cultural Festival 2014 has been canned after Auckland Council rejected a $13,000 funding request.

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Scots are again fuming after a $13,000 request was rejected by Auckland Council.

Tom Shiels, president of the Scottish Cultural Festival, says the January event has been canned for good.

Organisers cannot afford to pay for performers or even a sound system for the five-year-old Auckland Domain event, the Birkdale man says.

It is the second time Auckland's Scots have been knocked back by the council in the past year.

Auckland's Highland Games were nearly cancelled last November after organisers were denied $25,000.

Mr Shiels, a committee member for the games, told the North Shore Times at the time the decision was "racist".

A backlash forced council to concede and give $8000.

Mr Shiels says he has tried to avoid labelling the decision racist.

But he now believes Scottish people are being discriminated against.

Diwali, Chinese Lantern Festival and Pride parade all get funds from council, he says.

The Scots just want "the same consideration".

Mr Shiels claims council approached festival organisers, offering funding, promotion and an ongoing partnership.

They filled out forms and became an incorporated society at council's request, Mr Shiels says.

He says he was told by council the event could be held at Silo Park.

Then support was pulled suddenly, he says.

"I've been on the phone to council for four years. I'm fed up," he says of the saga.

Scottish Cultural Festival organisers sought $13,000 from council for the 2014 event.

Howick and Kaipatiki local boards have given $750 and $500 respectively. Four other local boards were approached.

A council spokeswoman says help finding money is on offer.

"However there is no guarantee that the full amount sought would be received."

She says council is not aware of the Silo Park and promotion deal and will investigate if details are provided.

"Council is currently working on options for the event for the 2014-2015 year and beyond."

But Mr Shiels says it is too late and the festival is over.

"We won't be in existence."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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