THE long-term future of the Lowestoft airshow was in doubt this week after it was definitely cancelled for next year with a warning it may not happen again unless the town shows its support.

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Organisers of the popular annual event were forced to cancel the 2013 Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival because bad weather at this year’s show saw a dramatic drop in entrance fees and donations.

The shock announcement has caused disappointment and sadness across the town as people began to realise that Lowestoft will miss out on the spectacular aerial displays from the Red Arrows and other planes.

And although the airshow committee is downhearted, it has pledged to meet in a “couple of months’ time to review the situation” but because of a £60,000 shortfall in the wet weather contingency fund, caused by this year’s poor weather, there is no guarantee future events will go ahead.

Because of the rainswept second day of June’s airshow there was a £55,000 drop in entrance fees and donations compared to the first day which wiped out the wet weather fund.

Describing the decision to ground next year’s show Paul Bayfield, managing director of the Air Festival who has been involved in all but one of them, said: “I think the whole group involved feels it is like a bereavement.

“We all enjoy putting it on and it brings many benefits to the town.

“We had a really, really first good day, but the killer for us was the second day. It absolutely threw it down.

“We raised £70,000 on the first day, which is more than we have ever had, but on the next day we only got £15,000.”

Mr Bayfield went on to say that future airshows can only go ahead if the money is found to fill the wet weather contingency fund – which can only be done if people and businesses in the town show their support.

He said: “I feel it is really a question of ‘do the businesses and residents want an airshow?’ Maybe the answer lies in the townsfolk’s hands themselves?”

There is also a fear that the expertise of committee members in organising the last 16 airshows will fade away the longer the uncertainty continues about its future.

A spokesman for the show said: “The organising committee were saddened and very disappointed that they had to announce last Friday that there would definitely not be an airshow in 2013.

“They have pledged to remain together and meet in a couple of months’ time to review the situation.

“Considerable expertise has been gained by the committee in organising the event which they do not want to lose if there is any chance the airshow will be revived.

“We really need to see some encouragement from the town to indicate whether the public and businesses want to support another airshow.”

This week the committee started to scale down its operation and reduce its overheads, such as cancelling the rental on emergency phone lines and looking for alternative storage for equipment, as part of “sensible housekeeping” until the future becomes clearer.

Last week’s confirmation that next year’s event will not happen followed an announcement in July that it would not take place, which then led to a concerted efforts to try to save it.

Directors had look at underwriting, sponsorship, out-of-event fund-raising, event loss insurance and trimming the costs of the air display itself but unfortunately all the efforts failed.

Bob Blizzard, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, was the leader of Waveney District Council when the airshow started in 2007.

Like many others in Lowestoft Mr Blizzard is sad to see next year’s event has been cancelled.

He told The Journal: “I am personally very sad as the airshow first started when I was council leader. All those who have put it on down the years and those who tried to save it deserve our thanks.

“Huge numbers watch the airshow. If they had all put two or three quid in a bucket it could have continued.

“It seems some people want something for nothing.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “It is disappointing news that it has been confirmed that the airshow will not be going ahead next year as it has done so much to put Lowestoft on the map.

“Special thanks should go to Paul Bayfield and all the volunteers for their hard work in putting on the event over a number of years and I do hope that in the future the airshow will return.”

Traders in Lowestoft will also miss out next year as the hundreds of thousands of visitors who regularly go to the show will not be there to spend their money in shops.

Emma King, town centre manager for Lowestoft Town Management Partnership – the retail arm of the chamber of commerce – said: “I am very sad to hear that the Lowestoft air festival will not be going ahead in 2013 – I truly believed that we would have one next year,

“It is a terrible shame for the town and will disappoint a great many people but let us not give up hope that we will have another Lowestoft air festival in the future.

“Lots of good things are happening in our town and we don’t know what the future holds but it is all looking very positive. It would be great if the air festival could be part of this once again.”

When it was revealed in July that the airshow would probably not go ahead next year Steve Saunders, manager of Lowestoft’s Elephant Interiors, set up the Save the Lowestoft Airshow 2013 appeal, which raised £2038.76 for the wet weather fund.

As the airshow has been cancelled, Mr Saunders will be handing over all the money raised to the Lowestoft-based Help an East Coast Child appeal instead. He said: “I am devastated Lowestoft has lost the air festival next year. Maybe, as the saying goes, ‘You don’t know what you have till you lose it’ may come into play?”

It costs £300,000 to run each airshow.

The airshow began in 1997. In 2004, social enterprise company, Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival Ltd, took over the show, which had been run by Waveney District Council.

•What do you think? Vote on the issue via the poll above, or send us your views by registering below, or writing a letter to Postbox, The Journal, 147, London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB, or email mark.boggis@archant.co.uk

13 comments

  • All the event needed to pay for itself was a proper way to ENSURE that people paid their £2 to watch it. A simple change in the bye law (Same as the power boats at Oulton Broad) allowing a charge to enter the seafront area on the 2 days. A Theme Park type wrist band issued for each day and proper patrols to ensure that eveyone had one on. A commercial company would be laughing that we could have an event that attracted 250,000 people and could not break even out of it

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

  • Honestly these Councilors and Politicians are all living in a different Dimension from us.

    Report this comment

    Colin James Watling

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • Maybe the local Fish and Chip shops or Fish Mongers could sponsor it Kev-maybe the Fish Market could throw in a few bob.

    Report this comment

    Colin James Watling

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

  • All the event needed to pay for itself was a proper way to ENSURE that people paid their £2 to watch it. A simple change in the bye law (Same as the power boats at Oulton Broad) allowing a charge to enter the seafront area on the 2 days. A Theme Park type wrist band issued for each day and proper patrols to ensure that eveyone had one on. A commercial company would be laughing that we could have an event that attracted 250,000 people and could not break even out of it

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

  • Colin I think you mean No, No No this is all too expensive for a backwater town where there will be very little cost benefit.

    Report this comment

    Tea&Biscuits

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • Colin I think you mean No, No No this is all too expensive for a backwater town where there will be very little cost benefit.

    Report this comment

    Tea&Biscuits

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • I have enjoyed the Seafront Air Festival in the past and have been able to attend most years. However I really think the idea has run out of steam (or maybe aviation fuel). In the early days locals and visitors alike enjoyed a lovely family day on the beach at the beginning of the school holidays – a great atmosphere, a bit like Christmas but without all the cooking and shopping. In recent years the crowds have still turned up when the weather is good, but the atmosphere is less enjoyable. The promenade and huge areas of beach are appropriated, fenced off with windbreaks, and 'patrolled' in a proprietorial fashion by the occupiers of beach huts. Very large quantities of alcohol are consumed through the day which no doubt brings joy to those doing so, but a rather less pleasant experience for those nearby. I have encountered many dogs brought onto the beach at Kirkley on airshow days and let off the lead – and have not found anyone 'in authority' willing to tackle the owners. I should like to see the data on the Airshow's actual economic benefit to Lowestoft. I have sometimes attended one day of the show, and gone shopping in Lowestoft on the other day because I knew there wouldn't be many people around – and this invariably proved to be the case. Lowestoft does need a major event of some kind during the summer in order to attract visitors and provide some entertainment for its council tax payers. I should like to see a more wide-ranging Lowestoft Week (or Fortnight) which might include the carnival, a regatta, power boat racing, and some cultural and sports events for adults and children – for example a literary festival, an old-fashioned seaside show by a local drama group, nightly comedy club, a selling art exhibition like Art On The Prom in Felixstowe, concerts – classical and other, an event featuring local food, and following the huge turn out for the Tour of Britain locally what about a Tour de Waveney cycle race?

    Report this comment

    point du jour

    Friday, September 28, 2012

  • Yes but Te&Biscuits-surely its all FAR TOO SIMPLE: A new Bridge for Lowestoft? A Flyover Like the one at Saint Olaves? A Tunnel sunk under the River-just like they did across the Channel to France but this one being a little shorter and less expensive? What would the Tunnel be named? How about a Car Ferry or 2 to lessen the weight of Cars on the Bridge? And the GENERAL FACT that none of this will happen or be achieved because of its simplicity.

    Report this comment

    Colin James Watling

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • do you honestly expect the airshow to carry on forever, the last couple of years have been a tad boring, as for all the money it fetches into the towns shops , well as someone else has said that is a fantasy that certain people want to believe. how this town expects anything to keep going is beyond me, what with the awful traffic jams through bad planning, and expensive car parks ,and all the shops shutting down at an alarming rate. when even the locals wont go into lowestoft if they can help it because of all the above.then no i dont think the airshow will be here in the future. oh and by the way as for charging locals to go on their own towns beach is disgusting, i for one would never pay it, lowestoft has been killed off by bad planning decisions and no airshow for 2 days will save it.

    Report this comment

    bluebell

    Monday, October 1, 2012

  • Sorry but your report is so wrong. The second day it rained for 15 mins and then wad dry the rest of the day compared to the year before when we had thunder both days. The problem was it was held way to early this year and that was its downfall. Normally.you.can't park for love or money but this year there were parking spaces all over the place. As for its future I hope it could happen but put it back in august during the summer holidays even if it has to go back to thurs and Friday as in previous years I have never seen it so busy. This year the front was much quieter.

    Report this comment

    vinny.p

    Friday, September 28, 2012

  • Like everything good has been lost and is being lost from Lowestoft-couple of days of the Summer to take time out and enjoy and now we are robbed of that as well-keep on ruining and trashing everything up-after all its what your best at doing.

    Report this comment

    Colin James Watling

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

  • A new Bridge for Lowestoft? A Flyover Like the one at Saint Olaves? A Tunnel sunk under the River-just like they did across the Channel to France but this one being a little shorter and less expensive? What would the Tunnel be named? How about a Car Ferry or 2 to lessen the weight of Cars on the Bridge? NO NO NO-this is all far far too simple.

    Report this comment

    Colin James Watling

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • Quote from this article "Traders in Lowestoft will also miss out next year as the hundreds of thousands of visitors who regularly go to the show will not be there to spend their money in shops." Isn't it about time that the Journal stopped repeating this fantasy over and over again?. If it was true the air show would have no trouble getting sponsorship.

    Report this comment

    kevin bacon

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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