Council snub puts Bognor Birdman in doubt

Ron Freeman prepares for his 24th Bognor Regis Birdman flight
Ron Freeman prepares for his 24th Bognor Regis Birdman flight

BIRDMAN organisers in Bognor Regis have warned another lack of council cash could see the event scrapped.

Barry and Jenny Jones, who lead the International Bognor Birdman organising committee, said a continued failure of Bognor Regis Town Council to back the flying challenge could be costly to the town.

Mr Jones, the committee’s chairman, said Bognor could follow Worthing in abandoning Birdman 2016 if more support was not forthcoming.

“We cannot understand that Bognor councillors feel Birdman is of no value to Bognor. It brings in 25,000 public supporters and much pleasure to local people and children.

“They need to say they do not want Birdman any more and we can then die with Worthing. It would be useful for Bognor residents to express to their councillors whether or not they want Birdman to continue and, as a committee, we can make the appropriate decision.

“Councillors and electors should wake up. Do not let us drift into what we feel would be a loss for Bognor,” he said.

Monday’s meeting of the town council saw a decision made in late January to refuse any grant aid to the Birdman go unchallenged.

The Birdman committee had asked for £4,500, council officers had recommended £4,000 should be paid but councillors rejected that advice. This repeated last year’s decision.

Other groups such as Bognor Regis Seafront Lights (£10,000), Bognor Regis Kite Festival (£1,000) and the Number 18 Project (£4,000) did receive money. But many others – including Arun Arts at the Regis Centre and Hotham Park Heritage Trust – were also refused as councillors spoke about having to make tough decisions.

Victoria Drive residents Mr and Mrs Jones took over Bognor’s Birdman in 2004. They have run the summer occasion for £14,000 a year with strict cost control and traders’ donations and still attracted top entrants like Ron Freeman.

This compared to Worthing’s predicted costs for this year of 2016 and Arun’s £55,000 in Bognor in 2003.

But Mr Jones said, despite this frugality, Bognor’s event only survived last year thanks to a county council grant.

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