THE future of an iconic landmark of the TT festival could be hanging in the balance after a decision by Douglas councillors.
Bushy’s beer tent, at the end of the promenade by the Sea Terminal is part of the event’s fabric for many visitors and has been a focal point for entertainment – both official and unofficial – since the nineties.
But the brewery’s current three-year lease of the Bottleneck car park, which the tent occupies, ends this year and councillors have resolved the site should be put out to tender.
The one voice expressing serious dissent was that of Councillor Bill Malarkey who said he supported the idea of tendering but felt now was not the time to upset the status quo.
‘We could end up with more visitors staying away because this council made a decision to tender. If something is not broken why are we doing this? This decision could seriously damage the Isle of Man TT races.
‘I am in favour of getting economic tenders but this is not the time when someone else may not have the same appeal,’ he said.
But Councillor Stephen Pitts thought it was wrong for the tent to be a permanent fixture purely because they had been there for years and Councillor Ritchie McNicholl went a stage further.
‘The TT is over 100 years old and Bushy’s has not been there for that long. The TT is bigger than Bushy’s. When the government in its infinite wisdom cancelled the races but held the festival during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, no-one came. Maybe someone fresh should come to the site,‘ he said.
Council leader David Christian agreed: ‘The TT is more than just a tent. We have let this run on for a number of years so what’s wrong with testing the water and seeing who’s interested? The strongest candidate is the one that has been operating for a number of years. What would be to stop Bushy’s having a tent somewhere else?’
He said lease of the Bottleneck car park had been done in three year slots but no tendering process had been operated for it for a number of years.
Councillors agreed to reappraise the use of that area, particularly as another beer tent had operated near the war memorial in recent years.
In addition, the focus for the entertainment had moved north up to Harris promenade near the Villa Marina.
They also accepted they had never tested the market before to see if someone else might offer better value for using the site. Moreover they accepted the site could be used to accommodate a completely different attraction other than the beer tent.