Branson to rescue air show?

By Jim DraiseyMULTI-millionaire Sir Richard Branson has been asked to lend his support to the annual Lowestoft air show.The tycoon, the boss of the Virgin airline company, has been invited to Lowestoft for talks following behind-the-scenes moves by Labour district councillor Sally Spore.

By Jim Draisey

MULTI-millionaire Sir Richard Branson has been asked to lend his support to the annual Lowestoft air show.

The tycoon, the boss of the Virgin airline company, has been invited to Lowestoft for talks following behind-the-scenes moves by Labour district councillor Sally Spore.

With European funding for the show ending next year, she has been looking at other ways of funding it at no cost to the taxpayer and has invited Sir Richard to the town to have an input into the air show.


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Sir Richard has connections with Lowestoft – in the 1970s he had his transatlantic speedboat built at the old Brook Marine yard and used it to try to break the transatlantic speed record with former Suffolk businessman Ted Toleman.

Waveney District Council's executive committee was advised in a report last week that unless the public responded positively to an entrance donation, there would be no air show in 2005.

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It is considering the idea of putting secure collection boxes at various points along the seafront during next year's show – and if everyone who enjoyed it paid just £1 for the privilege, that would bring in more than enough to cover the cost of the two-day spectacular.

Even with poor weather, an estimated 250,000 saw the show in the summer, while attendances peaked at more than 400,000 two years ago.

Graham Osborne, the council's leisure development and support manager, said the only way to make the show viable was to increase income – and other than sponsorship, that meant donations – and he added the authority's financial position would not allow it to underwrite any loss.

A new management structure is also being put in place to run the 2004 show and a business support group is also in talks with Waveney District Council on their role.

jim.draisey@eadt.co.uk

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