A BOURNEMOUTH MP is campaigning to ensure the Air Festival returns to the town next year, amid speculation over the future of the event.

MP for Bournemouth East, Tobias Ellwood, said he is ‘very concerned’ over the future of the festival, something he says is ‘fundamental’ to the local economy.

BCP Council is ‘looking at future options’ for the event, with ‘significant financial pressures’ meaning the current administration, the Three Towns Alliance, is seeking ‘new ways of sustainably financing’ the event.

The council is faced with a £44m shortfall in the 2024-25 budget, with the Air Festival subsidised by residents, this year by £400,000.

Recommendations on the future of the event will be put forward to BCP Council’s cabinet in October.

Mr Ellwood told the Daily Echo the event is ‘without doubt our flagship event of the year’.

“It helped define Bournemouth as an amazing seaside resort with the best free airshow in the country,” Mr Ellwood said.

“Critically, it has taken years for the air show to develop its national reputation. Were it then to be cut, the strengths of that work would then disappear.

“If the air show were to pause in any way, it would be very difficult to rekindle that reputation again.”

The MP said he is ‘very concerned’ that the decision has ‘already been made’ in the minds of ‘many of those in the council’.

“Just look at how successful this last event has been,” Mr Ellwood added.

“It is fundamental in supporting our local economy that this air show continues.

“If there are difficulties in the funding, and that’s understandable, we need to look at cleverer ways of securing the necessary sponsorship to ensure it happens, because overwhelmingly this is a financially positive event for the local economy.”

Cllr Millie Earl, deputy leader of BCP Council, said: “No decisions have been made on the future of the air festival yet.

“We will continue to have meetings with business leads as part of our working group, established in July.

“As part of forthcoming discussions, we’ll be analysing the data from this years’ festival and looking at some of the ideas we’ve received from business owners and festival goers over the last few days.

“We will announce what next year will look like as soon as we can.”