Portrush alderman Norman Hillis has expressed concerns over plans for the Air Waves Show to spread its wings into Portstewart.
During last Tuesday’s Leisure and Development Committee meeting, the Portrush councillor asked: “I want to seek clarification regarding the location of the fireworks display in Portstewart at the end of Air Waves Show, a Portrush event. This will mean that there is the potential for traffic chaos on the coast road with many of the spectators already in Portrush for the airshow needing to relocate to Portstewart.”
He continued: “Around 100,000 people are expected to attend the airshow in Portrush and afterwards they’re being expected to move to Portstewart. There was massive jams at the end of the Red Sails Festival so I can’t imagine what it will be like after the Air Waves Show. I’m sad and confused as I believe it will cause a lot of problems. I don’t want a great event to get spoilt.”
In response Director of Leisure and Development, Richard Baker explained: “We were told by yourselves to extend the footprint of this event. In 2014 we took steps to stop the surge of traffic by holding a fireworks display which attracted around 400 people. In 2015 we didn’t do any fireworks display.
“In 2016 it was approved that Air Waves should be a multi-site event boosting attractions both in the air and on the ground. This is the third biggest event of this time in Northern Ireland and we are doing exactly what you have told us to do.”
Mr Baker also explained that Council has been working with other associations including NI Aviation to promote the event and officers were trying to extend the event to stop the surge of traffic leaving the area.
Ald Hillis questioned why the fireworks display couldn’t be held on the Friday night rather than Saturday.
Cllr Joan Baird also expressed concern over parking explaining: “Parking in Portstewart is ridiculous. I tried to see the fireworks display during the Red Sails and couldn’t get a space. Portrush has a lot more parking compared to Portstewart.”
Cllr Trevor Clarke said he “acknowledged what Mr Baker was saying” however questioned officers’ decision making.
Concluding Peter Thompson, Head of Tourism and Recreation said that Council “will be reviewing the programme for 2017.”
* Air Waves Portrush is heading over to Portstewart for a one-off special event on the Saturday evening (September 3). The newly developed promenade will host an evening of musical entertainment, fire performers, children’s entertainment, the Aerosparx Pyro Display (above) and finished off with a spectacular fireworks display.