Fears as Birdhman is ‘dumbed down’

BIRDMAN organisers have warned the event is in danger of being cut to shreds.

They have cut spending even further to ensure this year’s international fly-off takes place.

But they have described the event on June 28 and 29 as a ‘dumbed down’ occasion compared to previous years because of a lack of money.

Barry Jones, chairman of International Bognor Birdman, said: “The committee feel Bognor Birdman is an iconic event that can only be held in a town that has a seaside, beach and pier. As such, it cannot be copied by thousands of other towns in the country.

“We feel that the continual dumbing down of the Bognor Birdman will eventually mean the demise of this seaside event and it will join the Sands of Time and Hell and High Water, sadly lost seaside-only events.

“Birdman attracts 25,000 people to Bognor and the crowds which include children spread throughout the town and seafront bring much life and business to the town.

“No other Bognor event I know can boast this large spread of trade to Bognor.”

The committee has been given £7,500 of grants to stage the 2014 occasion.

Last year cost £17,013.70 to put on.

Of this, £6,000 came from grants and reserves made up another £5,000.

But this left just £2,000 in reserves to be used for June’s seafront spectacular off the pier.

Committee members agreed last Thursday to ditch the screen – at £2,500 – and the stage services to feed it – costing £2,400 – to save more money.

By comparison, Mr Jones said the last Birdman run by Arun District Council ten years ago cost £55,002. The one staged by Virgin in 2003 consumed £120,000.

“The committee has, therefore, done brilliantly to run the event at an average cost of £14,000 a year in the years following 2004,” he said.

He urged everyone interested in Birdman to support it any way they could to make it exciting and interesting in the hope of a big crowd and a successful and rewarding event.

“Please persuade teachers, politicians, bosses, publicans, neighbours and friends to join in the fun and jump off the pier in fancy clothes,” said Mr Jones.