Berwick’s air tattoo plan is put back to 2013

Cllr Jim Smith, St Boisil Ward, home: 01289 306496
Cllr Jim Smith, St Boisil Ward, home: 01289 306496

PLANS to stage an air show in Berwick have been put back 12 months after the huge amount of work involved became clear.

Initial plans to host the event this September have been abandoned following talks with Northumbria Police and the organisers of the Sunderland and East Fortune air shows.

Partners are instead looking at September 2013 which will give them more time to put together a funding package and solve the traffic congestion concerns raised by senior police officers.

Councillor Jim Smith, member for Berwick on Northumberland County Council, said: “It’s on the backburner for now but it’s definitely not switched off.

“We had a very informative meeting with the police and several other interested parties just before Christmas at which the logistics involved were spelled out, in particular the health and safety aspects such as car parking.

“It became clear to us that we don’t have enough lead in time to organise everything for this September so a decision has been taken to look at September 2013 instead.”

Further talks with Sunderland City Council and East Fortune have since been held to get a more detailed estimate of the likely costs involved.

“The costs of staging an air show can vary greatly so I wouldn’t want to put a figure on it at this stage,” said Councillor Smith.

“However, there’s no doubt we will have to raise funds and work in partnership to get it done and that’s another reason why we need more time to carry out further investigations. We’ll know a little more about our chances once the county council’s budget is settled next month.”

The air tattoo wing of the RAF Charitable Trust remains upbeat about the feasibility of staging an air show focusing on Spittal Promenade and Berwick Pier.

“They had already indicated they could fit it into their 2012 plans so there should be no problem for them moving it back a year,” said Coun Smith. “We will also have to re-register an interest in booking a flypast from the Red Arrows.”

He still firmly believes an air tattoo would attract thousands of spectators and provide an enormous economic boost to the town and surrounding area.

“Berwick really is an ideal location for an air show and all things being well it will be an event we can look forward to in September 2013,” he said. “2012 was already going to be a busy year with the Olympics and Queen’s diamond jubilee so it might not be such a bad thing to move it back a year to 2013 which, of course, ties in with the Flodden 500 plans.”

The event would involve historic aircraft, aerobatics teams, modern military aircraft, hot air balloons and much more.

Mike Greener, secretary of Spittal Improvement Trust, said: “I think it’s a sensible decision to move it back a year and make sure everything is properly organised. The last thing we want is a logistical nightmare.”