COUNCIL bosses have defended the Southend Airshow from public criticisms of its organisation, poor communication and cancelled flights.

Echo readers have left their verdict on the two-day event on our website - some even calling for the show to be moved to the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Organiser Southend Council has dismissed the idea, arguing the weather can never be guaranteed and pointing out the May date fits into a national schedule of airshows.

Wet and windy conditions put off many visitors, but still the show was declared a success by the organisers.

Beforehand, crowds of as many as 750,000 were being predicted. In the event, the figure was closer to 200,000.

And even when the rain did stop, several popular displays, including Monday's Red Arrows flypast, had to be scrapped because of low cloud.

Roger Fisher, chairman of the Southend Seafront Illuminations and Business Association, said: "It's a terrible shame when it rains. It quite literally puts a dampener on things.

"All the businesses along the seafront were looking forward to what should have been the busiest weekend of the year and we didn't get the numbers of people we would have wished for. It really knocked us for six.

"You can never guarantee good weather. If you change the weekend, you still have as much chance of weather being good as not."

Derek Jarvis, councillor responsible for culture, praised the resilience of those spectators who did brave the weather.

He said: "People were undaunted by the weather and made the most of all the airshow had to offer."

However, many visitors have used the Echo website to complain about the lack of information about what was happening to the flying programme and which flights had been cancelled.

Anita Thornberry, the council's head of tourism, said her team had done its best.

"The airshow was a huge success and was attended by more than 200,000 people despite the uncontrollable weather," she said.

"The council, in partnership with the event flying directors, safety committee and display teams, worked extremely hard over the weekend to ensure visitors were able to see a number of aircraft display safely.

"As well as public announcements, staff at the public information unit, security staff, the event team and control centre staff were kept fully informed and imparted this information to the public.

"However, the programme was subject to change at short notice, as the weather was an ever-changing issue over the two days."

Airshow sponsor since 2001, Maxims Casino, confirmed it was reviewing its future sponsorship - but said it did the same after every event.

Casino spokesman John Harland said: "We always have a briefing after each show. We will be sitting down and reviewing it as always."