PAUL O'BRIEN: Birdman had run its course

As I'm sure you read in this week's Herald, the unfortunate decision was made at our last Town Centre Initiative (TCI) meeting to not run the Worthing International Birdman this year.

Paul O'Brien
Paul O'Brien

With a group of around 25 in the room ranging from managers from some of the town’s multi-national stores, councillors, hoteliers, journalists and local small independents, it was one of those surreal moments where actually to a man (and woman) we all knew that the event had ran its course and I can’t remember a single person having a valid argument to run it this year.

Although sad, I can assure you that every measure was made to attempt to gain some large sponsorship, but in reality the money wasn’t the only reason we have shied away from running.

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From almost the minute the last one has ended our Town Centre Initiative manager Sharon Clarke is working on the next year’s event, and from around four months before this becomes an all-encompassing, ten-hours-a-day job.

When you consider the TCI team has just two employees, to lose Sharon for such a large chunk of the year, and especially when the town is at its busiest in the summer months, was one of the main reasons we voted against it.

On top of this every retailer, hotelier and café asked actually said that the Birdman, if anything, makes the town quieter than a normal summer weekend, in terms of trading figures.

As a group our remit is to generate extra footfall for the businesses that pay into the fund and unfortunately there was just no justification for using almost a third of our budget (about £80,000) on just two days of the year.

However, as always this is a Worthing event for Worthing people and if you would like to see its return I would urge you to let us know – perhaps some sort of crowd funding could be set up.

With the money now saved talks turned to potential new uses and I can assure you that some exciting new plans for events were discussed for sunny Worthing, so as ever watch this space for some proposals that the likes of Worthing has never seen before!


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