SOUTHEND Airshow is tired and needs a major rethink, local businesses have told Southend Council.

A report to senior councillors by tourism chiefs Anita Thornberry and Scott Dolling suggests such a revamp would lead to next year’s show being scaled down.

The move would tie in with the current thinking at the Civic Centre, which favours a series of smaller events throughout the year, along the lines of this August’s water festival.

The report suggests the new-look airshow should be rechristened the Festival of the Air The report was published the day after it was revealed Maxim’s Casino had dropped its sponsorship for the airshow.

This year’s show was hit hard by poor weather and led the council to ask local businesses about its future. Many said the event had become stale. Other comments included: l The event was too crowded to be enjoyable for visitors l Bad weather meant potential visitors no longer looked forward to the event so much l Low attendances meant local businesses made less money from the airshow l Residents had concerns about rubbish left behind by spectators l There were worries about over the environmental impact of an event which revolved around aircraft.

John Lamb, council deputy leader, said the end of the casino’s sponsorship presented an opportunity to reinvent the town’s events programme as a “Feast of Festivals”.

He added: “We aim to work in partnership with the private sector, the community and others to establish an events working party to help us jointly develop a dynamic events strategy.”

The official report also refers to the fact in the past the council has channelled “a hugely disproportionate resource” into the airshow.

“For two days of the actual event, there are nine months of preparation involved, which include many departments of the council,” it adds.

“Rather than focus on one event of this nature, the council should consider spreading the benefits across the year and across different cultural opportunities.”

Fewer civilian planes should be included in the flying schedule next year, the report suggests, as many visitors find them uninteresting.

Military fast jets, parachute display teams and the Red Arrows would still be a fixture, however.

The Royal Navy could also be invited to get move involved, with warships being docked at the end of the pier when suitable berths are available.