Torbay Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board has made a recommendation to Cabinet on the future of the English Riviera Airshow.

There was cross-party support for the proposal that the Council should continue to deliver the Airshow in 2024, after a meeting on Tuesday night.

The meeting heard from business and community representatives from across Torbay about the financial and social benefits the event brings.

The Board recommended to the Cabinet that the Council should own and deliver the 2024 Airshow and a business case should be developed to support this.

The recommendation also says:

  • The organisation and promotion of the Airshow should start now, working closely with ERBID (English Riviera Business Improvement District) Company and other groups, utilising professional expertise and experience.
  • The event should seek to include more of the community and voluntary sector, with private sector involvement and proactively seek sponsorship and commercialisation whilst keeping as much income within the Bay as possible.
  • The event to become more than just an Airshow, with the flying displays being part of a whole series of attractions from the Friday evening through to the Sunday evening.
  • The organisers to recognise the variability of the weather generates value in a 2-day event, but more needs to be done to ensure repeat attendance over both days and recognise the social benefits.
  • A strong grip needs to be kept on the finances, with the external funding received determining the format of the event.  Torbay Council to match fund the event subject to a maximum contribution and to look to substantially reduce its financial contribution year on year with a view to it becoming self-financing.

The Overview and Scrutiny Board acts as a watchdog to review and challenge Council decisions as well as developing policy. It was asked by the Council’s new leadership to carry out a Spotlight Review of the Airshow.

The meeting considered an in-depth report and heard from representatives of the ERBID Company, Torquay Chamber of Commerce, Paignton and District Chamber of Commerce, Torbay Business Forum, Brixham Town Council, Paignton Town and Preston Community Partnership, and The Airshow Working Party.

Cllr Adam Billings, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board, said: “I am grateful to the individuals and groups who shared their views on the future of the Airshow. It was clear there is a huge amount of support for the event, and a recognition of the benefits it brings to Torbay.

“It was the right time to hold a review, because of the escalating financial cost to the Council and the end of the current five-year contract with a third party to deliver the event.

It is important that we keep a strong grip on the finances and look at the most effective ways of using local taxpayers' money because we have a lot of competing demands for Council resources.

“We had a detailed cross-party discussion on value for money, the financial contribution required by the Council and the community and economic benefits.

“There were some exciting ideas about how the event can be developed, and how we can work towards reducing the cost to the Council.

“It is now for Cabinet to make a decision on the Board’s recommendation.”

The 2023 Airshow needed a contribution from the Council of £195,000 towards the total cost of £305,000. A study showed the 2023 event produced a financial return to Torbay of more than £15 for every £1 invested.

Torbay Council has delivered the Airshow every year since 2016 (except 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic and poor weather), as well as underwriting the costs.

But the escalating costs of putting on the event - coupled with the fact the Airshow has not generated as much income through sponsorship and advertising as anticipated - means that a new approach is needed.

The recommendations of the Board will go to a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 15 August, 2023. The meeting can be watched live on YouTube at  


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