QUESTIONS have been raised as to why a major event set to take place at the Three Counties Showground in July has not been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE) is due to be held in Malvern at the start of July, but unlike other events originally scheduled for around the same time, it has not been postponed or cancelled.

Supported by the Ministry of Defence, 3CDSE organisers describe the event as "bringing together senior military leading forces development and procurement, senior police engaged in the fight against cyber-crime, the intelligence and security agencies, and the industry innovators who supply them, to identify future strategies and needs."

Richard Morgan, President of 3CDSE, said: "We are closely reviewing the Government guidelines with regard to the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

"We are sensibly looking at alternative dates, should we need to postpone the current date in July.

“The health and safety of our Three Counties Defence and Security Expo’s (3CDSE) exhibitors, speakers, visitors, staff and wider colleagues is our highest priority and first consideration.

"We are working closely with our trusted event partners to monitor the coronavirus situation and ensure we adhere to UK Government instructions.

“The Three Counties have a strong connection with the military: forty thousand ex-services personnel and their families live in the region and many of these people are engaged in the very businesses 3CDSE is supporting.

“3CDSE also recognises the importance of supporting our forces. In 2019’s event, the 3CDSE organisers signed the Armed Forces Covenant as part of the Expo.

"The Armed Forces Covenant is a pledge that acknowledges that those who serve and their families should be treated with fairness and respect in the community, the economy and the society they serve with their lives.

“Thirty per cent of our profits are distributed to military charities and a further 55% are donated to the Three Counties Defence and Security Group trade association to support small and medium-sized enterprises to attend future business development events.”

Residents living nearby have accused the organisers of putting profit ahead of public safety by planning to go ahead with the event.

One resident, Rebecca Tully, said: “Everything we know has changed. It’s clear that we need to work to rebuild our health and our communities when they have been ravaged by this terrible pandemic.

“The focus needs to be on supporting communities, not promoting weaponry and ramping up paranoia. All the 3CDSE will do is promote more death and destruction."

Other events beyond this date have been cancelled at the showground, including a 4x4 Land Rover day and a Sports Expo.

Ade Couper, who lives in Worcester, said: “This Defence and Security’ Expo plans to bring over 2,000 visitors together this July, putting public safety and local residents at risk.

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The defence expo is held annually and sees businesses and the Ministry of Defence discussing latest innovations.

Last year saw many businesses use 3CDSE as an opportunity to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant, where they pledge to stand against discrimination of veterans.

Last year’s expo was also targeted by protests. At the time, a spokesman said the expo, as well as the work carried out by exhibitors, helps keep the community safe.

Stephen Rennie, CEO, Three Counties Showground, said: "The Three Counties Showground are huge supporters of local initiatives, one of which is the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE).

"This will be the third occasion that we will host the event. The showground is a keen supporter of the armed forces and as such, we employ retired and ex-service personnel for a number of roles, including our site security.

"Initiatives such as 3CDSE allow the showground to provide employment for up to 250 local people."