Tyne & Wear

Sunderland Airshow cost-cutting plan defeated

Red Arrows perform as part of the 2018 Sunderland Airshow Image copyright PA
Image caption The Red Arrows display team are regularly among the highlights of the show

A plan to slash funding for an air show and stage it every two years instead of annually has been defeated.

At Sunderland City Council's budget meeting, the opposition Conservative group said not holding Sunderland Airshow this year would save £500,000.

Council leader Graeme Miller, of Labour, accused the Tories of being "out of touch" with residents.

More than half a million people attend the three-day show, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last July.

The proposal was among a number put forward by the Conservatives in an attempt to save £2m from the council's 2019-20 budget.

Councillor Robert Oliver, leader of the Conservatives on the authority, said at Wednesday's meeting: "We're all in favour of air shows, whether they occur once a year, once every two years, or even twice a year."

He added that the show "should be paying for itself through sponsorship or through the revenue offer".

Generates 'millions'

However, Mr Miller said: "Some of these people can't afford a holiday, some of these people are unemployed, and they're able to get, if the weather is nice, a lovely weekend down in Seaburn and Roker.

Labour councillor Paul Stewart, cabinet secretary, argued the event "puts Sunderland not just on the map nationally but internationally and brings millions of pounds from visitors to our shops, pubs and hotels".

He added: "We have got sponsorship, but sponsors have been increasingly difficult to find after nine years of austerity so it leaves us with a shortfall, which this council pays for."

The Conservative amendments were defeated by 44 votes to 11, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

A budget of about £650m was later rubberstamped including a 3.99% council tax rise and proposals to invest more than £100m in the city centre.

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