New hope to keep Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival flying
THE campaign to keep the Lowestoft airshow flying was given renewed hope this week.
Organisers of the annual two-day spectacular are facing the crucial decision next week on whether to stage the event next summer, after warning that a lack of funding had left its long-term future in doubt.
But a meeting of the Lowestoft Charter Trustees (LCT) was held at the town hall on Wednesday night to 'urgently consider providing financial support' for the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival in 2013.
With the Mayor of Lowestoft, Nick Webb, declaring himself 'absolutely determined' to find a way to keep the airshow going, a 'very constructive' meeting was held.
After a 90-minute debate, a final decision was deferred to allow the trustees to meet event organisers to decide what level of support they might be able to offer.
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Meanwhile, a call to all has gone out today from airshow supporters – with people in the town urged to rally behind the event ahead of the all-important 'decision day' meeting next Friday.
Mr Webb said: 'As the mayor of Lowestoft I am still 100pc behind the airshow and am working to find a solution with a week to go. The message we need to get across is that businesses do need to come forward and support air festival organisers – if there are businesses out there that can help, then please come forward.'
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At the end of July, organisers announced the cancellation of the 2013 airshow after a lack of donations and poor weather on the second day of this year's event left them unable to fund next year's event.
Appeals were launched in August to help save the show and thousands of pounds have been pledged in recent weeks to help raise some of the �60,000 needed to top up its wet weather contingency reserve.
With the promises of underwriting already received, together with the cash donations and fund-raising initiatives, supporters believe they are at least half-way to finding the �60,000 that the organisers need.
But if the charter trustees agree to offer their support, it could ensure the event goes ahead.
A report to councillors by Waveney's assistant chief executive, Arthur Charvonia, ahead of Wednesday night's meeting of the charter trustees said: 'The airshow is of great importance to the people of Lowestoft both socially and economically.
'By enabling the airshow to take place the Lowestoft Charter Trustees will be supporting the town. Supporting the airshow will also raise the profile of the LCT with the people of Lowestoft.'
Councillors discussed a recommendation to provide the air festival with a 'one-off' �5,000 grant from the LCT's 2013/14 budget, to enable the airshow to go-ahead next year. They also debated a second proposal that the charter trustees 'pledge to underwrite the 2013 airshow, up to a maximum of �20,000, match-funded against private sector support received between September 12, 2012 and October 12, 2012'.
Both were deferred until a further meeting with airshow organisers.
Speaking on behalf of the charter trustees, a Waveney council spokesman told The Journal: 'Wednesday night's debate was very constructive and a further meeting with airshow directors will be organised to discuss further details of the event's operation and finances ahead of any final decision.'
After the meeting, the mayor said: 'It was a really positive one-and-a-half hour meeting with questions and a full debate. The committee now want to have a further discussion with the airshow organisers but I still remain absolutely 100pc positive we can find a way forward. There was broad support on Wednesday night and although it was deferred I am extremely positive and remain focused on the task at hand.'
The airshow's managing director Paul Bayfield said yesterday he was delighted with the backing that had been received in recent weeks. He said: 'It is really tremendous that the charter trustees, made up of councillors representing Lowestoft wards, have shown broad support for the air festival to continue. The airshow is the highlight of the summer for many people and it would be really, really sad if it could not go-ahead next year.'
?Offers to underwrite the airshow can be made to Mr Bayfield via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival Ltd, 41, Tennyson Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1PS.
? Donations for the Save Lowestoft Airshow 2013 appeal can be left at The Journal's offices in London Road North.