A PLAN to revive a popular South Lakeland air show has taken a nosedive after potential sponsors pulled out.
Showcase Events have been forced to pull the plug on the Windermere Air Festival after would-be backers – a local merchant bank – withdrew support.
Director Paul Milledge said the sponsor pulled out as a result of comments made in a TV interview by a member of Windermere and Bowness Chamber of Trade.
“We were all ready to go but one of the directors of the company that was sponsoring us saw that broadcast and said they wouldn’t do it,” said Mr Milledge.
“We have looked around for other sponsors but we just can’t get them.”
Mr Milledge said Showcase Events had been planning to put all profits into next year’s event.
He added that the company was also intending to open an office in Windermere and employ some local people.
“We’re very sorry that it’s turned out like this because we were really looking forward to this event – it’s a huge disappointment to us that it can’t go ahead.”
The 2014 Windermere Air Festival would have marked a comeback for the weekend-long event after a three-year hiatus.
For 10 years it was organised by Windermere Rotary Club, who then passed it over to Bluestone Events in 2011.
The London-based company ran it as a commercial event which was cancelled after one year following local criticism of the new parking charges and entry fee.
Showcase Events announced in February that it planned to bring the festival back – as a free event – and include a food festival and firework display.
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But the Windermere and Bowness Chamber of Trade’s Secretary/Treasurer Adrian Faulkner raised concerns about the return in a TV broadcast, saying local councils had a covenant that there should not be any commercialisation on the Glebe.
He also said there had not been sufficient dialogue between organisers and local bodies including councils and police, and that the length of time given was ‘not feasible to plan an air show’.
“When the Rotary Club organised the event all the surplus money went into local charities but people are reluctant to sponsor an outside company because the money is not going to good causes,” said Mr Faulkner.
“We’re not trying to put a dampener on it - at some point everybody would love to see the festival come back because it put Windermere and Bowness on the map, but it has to be done in a responsible way and thought through methodically.”
Mr Faulkner also went on to say: “As far as I was concerned the TV interview was a very balanced opinion.
“I believe businesses in the area will be a little saddened that the event will not be taking place and to not have the extra income from it, however they have survived without it and I feel sure they will continue to survive.”