December 7 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 14, 2013
Hopes that the Lowestoft airshow could be revived next summer have been dashed after a proposal to stage a smaller-scale event failed to get off the ground.
Talks have been taking place with a view to bringing back the two-day spectacle and one idea mooted was for a one-day “mini airshow” to see if there was still an appetite for the event and sufficient backing from local traders.
But this week it was confirmed that – despite offers of financial support from some businesses – the discussions had failed to find a way forward.
The chairman of Lowestoft Vision, Danny Steel, proposed the idea of holding a one-day show but the airshow organisers said this was not viable and have downplayed any hope that it might take place again in the near future.
Paul Bayfield, managing director of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival, said: “It would not be financially viable to have a one-day festival. It would not be cost-effective.
“If we had bad weather or it rained on that one day, then that would be it financially.
“When we had a two-day show, it would pour down on the first day and we would then manage to get some money back in on the second day, or vice versa. There would also be the cost of hiring plant equipment for just one day.
“So in terms of the airshow coming back, that’s it. It is very sad and it’s a really, really sad day for everyone on the committee who has worked so hard over the years.”
Mr Bayfield said the bad weather which hit the takings at last year’s airshow had left the organising committee needing to find £60,000 to top up their wet weather contingency fund for 2013 – forcing the cancellation of this year’s event. But this financial gap had proved too big to fill.
“The bad weather in 2012 has done for us,” Mr Bayfield added. “It was a real killer for us.”
Last month, Mr Steel set up a meeting to discuss whether the airshow might be revived if local business offered financial support and this led to pledges of about £40,000.
However, the airshow committee said that it needed the money on the table and not as pledges – prompting Mr Steel to come up with his idea for a one-day festival.
Even if this had gone ahead, it would have been without displays by airshow favourites such as the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight because the September 28 deadline for booking RAF aircraft had passed.
Mr Steel said: “It is great shame that the airshow appears to be doomed. I had been talking to the airshow people about the idea of a one-day festival but they are the experts on these things and I respect and understand their decision.
“I was very keen to get something up and running for one day on the seafront. Like all the airshows, I think it would have brought a lot of people into Lowestoft town centre and would have been a good thing for the town.”
Mr Steel said that Lowestoft Vision, which was set up to promote and enhance the town centre and parts of Kirkley, would try and organise a festival of some kind next year.
The airshow began in 1997 and in 2004 a social enterprise, Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival Ltd, was set up to take over the running of the event, which had previously been organised by Waveney District Council.
It cost about £300,000 to stage, and over the years it has raised £250,000 for good causes locally.
However, last year’s show had to be held at the weekend for first time, so it did not clash with the London Olympics. An estimated 300,000 people attended but only £85,000 was collected from visitors.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous MP, said he was disappointed that talks to revive the airshow had failed.
“First of all, I want to pay tribute to Paul Bayfield for all the work he and his committee have done for putting Lowestoft on the map,” he said. “It was right the situation should be reviewed and while it is disappointing the decision has been made, I am sure the decision has been made and justified for the right reasons.”