From Coleraine Times

THE Portrush Airshow will go ahead after all this year after it was saved at the final hour by the local business community.

The September event, which attracts up to 200,000 visitors each year, had been postponed for the first time this year due to a rise in costs and a lack of sponsors.

Coleraine Borough Council normally contributes about £70,000 to £80,000 to the event with the rest coming from corporate sponsors, however contributions from the sponsors were reduced this year because of the economic climate.

During a special meeting of Coleraine Borough Council on Tuesday night though, which the press were not invited to, the Chamber of Commerce confirmed that a number of businesses in the borough had pledged their support to the airshow.

In the light of this announcement, councillors unanimously voted to bring the airshow back.

Mayor of Coleraine, Sandy Gilkinson, said: “I can confirm that the NI International Airshow will take place in September 2010 at West Bay, Portrush.

“On behalf of Coleraine Borough Council I wish to thank the local business community and the Chamber for coming together to save this spectacular event, it shows tremendous spirit in a difficult economic period.”

Karen Yates, Chamber President commented, “I would like to thank everyone that has contributed so far for showing such spirit and commitment, particularly when trading is so difficult. It’s important to note that businesses of all sizes have made contributions from sole traders to large established groups, pledges have come from across the borough and the support province wide has been amazing. Once the line up has been confirmed we will make this public along with the names of the businesses that have saved the Airshow for all of us.”

“It’s not clear if businesses will have to finance the show in the future but we’ll have to put a plan in place,” she added.

Coleraine Borough Council staff will now continue to make arrangements for the airshow to take place on the first weekend of September.

It is yet to be decided whether this year’s airshow will be a one day or weekend event.

Alliance councillor, Barney Fitzpatrick, said: Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “This is a massive boost for our tourism industry and our local economy.

“I want to praise all the local businesses that have dug deep into their pockets at this tough time to save the airshow.
The excellent efforts of many in recent weeks shows the great community spirit in the locality.”

UUP councillor and MLA, David McClarty said: “The decision to cancel had been taken in the first place to keep the rate rise to a bare minimum, and because many businesses who would have supported it were under financial pressure this year.

“In my 20 years as a councillor, this is the biggest reaction to a subject, other than a human tragedy, that I can ever remember,” he said.

The good news will delight the 3,076 people who backed an online campaign to save the airshow.

Facebook users including Ulster Unionist MLA John McCallister and DUP MLAs Trevor Clarke and Jonathan Craig had joined a group called Bring Back The Portrush Airshow 2010.

Comments on the page reflected the disappointment felt across the Province at the cancellation of the airshow.

Some of the comments left included: “Give us all something to look forward to for goodness sake, precious little else given to ratepayers,” and, “I saw the Airshow in 2008. Unbelievable! I know times are hard but the show is such a big morale-boost and crowd puller.”