Red Arrows saluted for goodwill gesture after woeful weather

The Red Arrows at Sidmouth. Ref shs 2900-35-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

The Red Arrows at Sidmouth. Ref shs 2900-35-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The Red Arrows have been saluted for offering to reduce their fee after bad weather stopped them from performing a full display.

Negotiations were under way last week to establish ‘what charge would be appropriate’ after huge crowds defied the gloomy conditions last Friday to welcome back the aerobatic team.

It is hoped any money saved can be used so the popular squadron can return to the town next year.

The community had dug deep to raise the cash to bring the Red Arrows back to Sidmouth for the first time since 2006 - only for woeful weather to affect the event.

Sidmouth Town Council clerk Christopher Holland said: “They have approached us and said ‘we will look at amending the bill’.

“We are so pleased to have got them back in Sidmouth and we hope they do come back. We were also pleased to get a big crowd. It is not just about monetary value, it is about giving something back to the people of the town to enjoy.”

The standard charge for the Red Arrows is £12,700 and covers the cost of hotel accommodation and third party liability insurance.

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Organisers fill in a document accepting the costs in advance of the display, but do not pay until after the performance.

The town council underwrote the £15,000 needed for the display to go ahead.

Wing Commander Alan Clark told the Herald: “Unfortunately, the Red Arrows display at Sidmouth was aborted after six flypasts due to bad weather. Safety is always our primary concern and it was clear that the weather conditions were unsuitable for the display to continue.

“A dialogue took place between the show organisers [Sidmouth Town Council] and the Royal Air Force Events Team about the possibility of reducing the charge.

“The display organiser subsequently contacted us to ask whether the charge for the display would change as a result of the shortened programme, and this is currently being looked into. There has been a dialogue between the two, looking at what charge would be appropriate.

“Since the final cost for the Sidmouth display has not yet been agreed, no payment has been received and therefore there is no payment to be refunded.”

Mr Holland said that the council’s tourism and economy committee will discuss putting the money towards next year’s display at its next meeting. He added: “The council had always budgeted for a full display. Members still have to decide, but that was the idea.

“We always said to people ‘the more you raise this year, the more likely they will be back next year’.”

Poor weather conditions meant the Red Arrows had to cancel performances in Dawlish, Weymouth, Fowey and Plymouth last week.

The team was able to rearrange their display at Bournemouth.

Mr Holland said that food outlets looked busy and that crowds were enjoying themselves last Friday as the team flew by.

He said: “This shows off Sidmouth, we had a lot of visitors who came down just for this. The town council does not just provide for local businesses, it is not about monetary value. We are also looking at the wellbeing of the people living here.”

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