Farnborough Airshow 2014

21/07/2014

Red Arrows MINIs from Barons

What an amazing show! Over $201BN of business for civil airliners and engines was made during the show. Key manufacturers displayed their products, both on the ground and in the air.

Organisations like the air cadets, disabled flying organisations, historic and preservation societies, even the Bloodhound SSC team were there amongst many others.

For Farnborough, the airport is the lifeblood of the town, and the airshow brings a huge amount of additional business, not just in the week of the show, but local hotels accommodating contractors and business people for six months before, too. Without the airport, Farnborough would be just another vanilla town, like many others in the UK.

Local restaurants and other businesses have a boom time during the show.

Over 100,000 trade visitors attended during the first five days, with the same number expected over the weekend, being the public days. The public visit, with children allowed in free, local people given a “buy one, get one free” ticket offer, and many exhibitors encouraging the engineers of tomorrow with all kinds of attractions. Meet the Red Arrows, sit in an F-35, build rocket powered cars…

A nice touch from Breitling, apart from their wing walker displays and the beautiful Super Constellation was their lounge, just flash your watch and get entry to a little bit of peace and quiet in the show with complimentary drinks and air conditioning, too with a nice viewing platform.

The Red Arrows were stunning as usual, the A380 never fails to impress and the Boeing Dreamliner is probably the most stunning airliner in the skies today.

How the F-18 can do the acrobatics it does is incredible and the Eurofighter Typhoon is great, but not really a match visually for the American plane. No doubt the F-35 when it does finally arrive will trump them both!

The media are well catered for, with the usual WiFi, press information and so on, and a well elevated viewing platform – but as usual a bit manic up there!

Local car dealer Barons also hosted an event on the Thursday, half-way through the show and showed off their nine Red Arrows liveried cars.

Passes

Passes

Many people watch from outside the event, seeing much of the displays, but missing out on the action inside the airfield perimeter.

Something for everyone, and the weather was good too.

A full gallery from the event is available to view at my main web site.

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Is There No Demand For Another Music Venue In Farnborough?

06/12/2013

In Farnborough a local pub, the Tumbledown Dick was closed almost six years ago and lies derelict. It has been bought by McDonald’s and will now become a drive-thru(sic) restaurant. Since it closed, another pub opened around the corner. The old pub was the subject of much local attention, but now things seem to have become a lot quieter in the town.

The campaign group, Friends Of The Tumbledown Dick, apparently secured funding to re-open the pub as a music venue and community centre in the event that McDonald’s pulled out and the building came up for sale. But now, the silence is deafening, and I am wondering if there actually is the demand for such a venue in Farnborough at all? Is there an interest in moving that funding to a different location, or was there never really any motivation for a live music venue?

Since the refurbishment of the Swan pub just down the road, there is live music there. Agincourt up the road in Camberley caters for the more ‘hard core’ music fans and there are many other pubs local to Farnborough that host open mic nights and live music. Even the Village Hotel that opened since the Tumbledown itself closed is now hosting live music.

There are plenty of potential venues with the police station coming up for sale soon, and a vacated car showroom just down the road that is for sale (I fear this will actually become a Tescos Local, or another drive-through, it’s a prime location).  Both of these sites could also be re-developed, plus there are also units in the town centre that could be used – potentially attractive as the cinema opens and we get new restaurants, too. Plus, the cinema may be able to host live music?

For more formal events like concerts, recitals etc., Princes Hall in Aldershot is there, with plenty of spare capacity.

David Clifford, a local councillor, has tried to move this forward, but just seems to get mostly vitriolic comments, as if those commenting don’t appreciate any help.

So, could Farnborough even sustain another venue, with the existing competition? Anything that might open for business clearly has to make a profit, and it’s not the responsibility of the council to open such a venue. I’m not sure the demand is really there, anyway.


So much for free speech…

07/03/2013

In November last year, I got involved with a campaign to save a local pub from demolition and replacement by a two-storey McDonald’s Drive Thru.

November's Demonstration

November’s Demonstration

The campaign’s main pages are on Facebook and their own web page. I’ve taken photographsand produced videos to assist with the campaign.

I offered to host their website without charge (I have the domains http://www.ttdd.co.uk and http://www.tumbly.co.uk), but this was declined.

Over Christmas, I got involved with their ‘business team’ to try and establish a business plan to re-open the building as a pub and music venue and established a potential break-even scenario, with cash flow forecasts and investment plans. I spent time getting business management advice, and fed this back to the group. This is where it started to go wrong.

I needed to ask questions about potential grants, investment schemes, financing models etc., but was continually told “this is in hand” – without any details. Frustrating for both sides. In the end, I was told that some aspects were not “fucking important”. Developing a business plan without information is quite tricky.

Some background on me – in 1992 three of us started a self-financed business which we grew and eventually sold in 2004 after getting turnover up to £8M p.a. Part of that process involved understanding what’s needed to make a successful business, so I felt I had something to contribute here, especially as much of the campaign group consisted of musicians, music enthusiasts, and by their own admission, not a lot of business skills.

After some abuse, I left the ‘business team’ – the group did find someone else who is continuing this work, proving the maxim that no-one is indispensable.

I was still involved in their main Facebook group and would comment on processes – with an upcoming planning application, and little material objection that can be raised, I felt that something else would be needed. An English Heritage listing for the building looks unlikely, so something called a ‘Pub Protection Plan” seems to me (and a local councillor), a main hope to save the building.

Objections on the grounds of not wanting a takeaway are unlikely to carry any favour with the council, after all – there is extensive evidence that McDonald’s have had detailed conversations with the local council about road access, local amenity etc., why would they do that without reasonable expectation of success?

So, the Pub Protection Plan appears to be a good way of stopping McDonald’s in their tracks, but this idea has been rejected due to the potential costs. In addition, I received abusive messages from members of the group accusing me of capitalist intentions, amongst others.

I am happy to speak my opinion, I’m not one to keep quiet. But, I was once told the phrase “no-one gets in trouble for keeping their head down and saying nothing”. Maybe it’s better to say nothing then?

But, I won’t stay somewhere where you are abused for your opinion with un-substantiated accusations that are irrelevant. Maybe I’m too old and intolerant now, but I do believe that life is too short.

What these people don’t seem to understand is that making a profit is essential for any business, be it McDonald’s or a local pub and music venue. A music venue will not operate on grants alone. Holding a few music lessons won’t save the building. It has to make money – in fact, as we all do.

Maybe some of those criticising me have a mentality of living on state benefits, but the money even for them to live comes from someone, somewhere, making money.

So, after the abuse, I’ve left the group. This was a closed group, and even my comments in the public group have now been deleted and I’m blocked from posting there again.

Maybe what killed it was my suggestion that supporters put their hands in their pockets to support the Pub Protection Plan and invest in the Community Interest Company that has been created.

Maybe they don’t like people who talk of the reality? Reality isn’t always nice, the facts have to be faced, otherwise once McDonald’s put in their planning application, it’s far more likely to be an inevitability than a possibility.

While I don’t want a McDonald’s in my town, simply getting a petition and demonstrating, won’t actually sway the planners – they have to work to guidelines. McDonald’s might step away, but profits speak louder to them than upsetting a few musicians.

As an example, here is a rough financial business plan with cash flow. Even starting at £17K/week turnover, the business struggles to remain cash flow positive (and this is based on getting the building for free!).

If the campaigners are serious, investment and putting money where their mouths are will be needed.