Marymass’ future funding could be at risk after NAC launched a bid to charge almost £30,000 for maintenance it previously carried out for nothing.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the Irvine Locality Partnership, when NAC finance chief Laura Friel revealed maintenance costs for Irvine common good land stood at £28,995 a year.

With Marymass the main beneficiary of the Common Good fund, the impact of any charge would be significant.

An Irvine councillor has since denounced any move to tinker with the festival’s funding, warning that it could spell the beginning of the end for Marymass.

The money available for distributing locally comes from the revenue income of the common good assets, such as rent from the Woodlands Centre and parts of the East Road car park, minus any other costs such as repairs and utility bills.

In 2016/17, income stood at more than £71,000, with costs of around £13-£16,000.

The majority of the surplus - between £55-£58,000 was subsequently paid out to the Marymass organisers.

One option, to continue paying out the same level of grants would mean that the capital – currently sitting just under £1million – would then be eaten into to meet the maintenance charge, while the other main option would be to pay the charge from the common good fund’s income while almost halving the amount for local causes – in this case a significant chunk of the money Marymass relies on every year.

At the September Locality Partnership meeting, it was stated that there was talk of using the common good capital, the amount given to Marymass, the reduction in maintenance costs due to the development of common good land at Quarry Road and Redburn and alternative approaches to carrying out ground maintenance.

There was also a suggestion NAC could look at its charging for work carried out for Marymass.

Irvine West Conservative Cllr Scott Gallacher said: “I would hope that a reasonable solution can be found. I would not like to see, nor could I ever support, a move that would potentially remove a significant sum of money out of the Marymass budget.

“Marymass is a time when the people of Irvine come together as one, and enjoy all the events and celebrations that the Carters and other organisations have to offer. It is the one sacrosanct feature of our town. Any scaling down of the festival would be a tragedy.

“I sincerely hope that the relevant departments can find the £30,000 elsewhere, and would not force the Carters society and the Marymass Committee into having to go down a very difficult long term fundraising venture.

"Year after year the festival gets bigger and better, and it would be beyond foolish to jeopardise that.

"Any tinkering with the Marymass budget could be the beginning of the end of the festival."