Interestingly, as well as wanting something done about the potholes and parking, quite a few people are asking me about the annual Weston-super-Mare Air Show which, as most people probably know, was cancelled by the current council.
Specifically, I’m being asked:
a) Would I have cancelled it?
b) Would I reinstate it?
In terms of whether I’d have cancelled it, my answer is a firm no.
I realise that the current council was facing a massing problem with the budget. At one point they had to find £17m’s worth of savings.
But the subsidy to the air show was only £135,000 and I think that represents excellent value for money both in terms of the boost to local businesses over the weekend itself – and I think we should be doing everything we can to attract people to Weston-super-Mare – but also in terms of the boost to Weston-super-Mare’s reputation as a resort to be taken seriously.
And on the reputation side of things, I actually think that we’ve damaged our reputation by cancelling the event because the message it sends is that we aren’t open for business or at the very least we’re a second-division player; The Bournemouth Air Festival is still going ahead this year.
I feel that we should have fought harder to keep the air show. Perhaps some of that £135,000 could have come from corporate sponsorship. Maybe we could have sold tickets for VIP areas. Surely something could have been done; we should have fought harder.
The other problem with cancelling it brings me on to the second question and even though I’d love to have the air show in Weston-super-Mare this year there is no way we can reinstate it for 2023. The current council’s cancellation of the event was permanent for 2023 once the announcement to cancel the event was made. The exhibitors will have made alternative arrangements virtually immediately. You can’t just phone the Red Arrows and say, “are you free this coming weekend, chaps?”
It also creates a problem in terms of future events. Councillor Mike Bell has said that for a few years we’ve been struggling to find aircraft willing to attend the event and it’s going to be even harder to find aircraft now that we’ve shown ourselves to be unreliable.
So if I’m elected, yes, I’ll be trying to get the air show back in 2024. I can’t make any promises on that front, though, because I think the current council’s decision to cancel the event will mean that getting it back isn’t going to be all that easy.
Thoughts? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.