Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 10:48 UK

Council gives 15,000 for Birdman

Bognor Birdman contest
Thousands of spectators gather to watch the Birdman contest

A county council is chipping in with 15,000 in an effort to secure this year's Birdman competition for one of its south coast resorts.

West Sussex County Council said its Worthing local committee was backing the town's bid for the contest.

Brighton is also in the running to stage Birdman, which was held in Bognor for 29 years but was cancelled for 2008 when part of the pier collapsed.

"We see this as a major investment," said Councillor John Livermore.

"This is a headline-hitting event - one that always creates extensive national interest in the media."

'Go-ahead town'

Businesses in Worthing have already raised more than 10,000 towards the estimated 25,000-30,000 cost of staging the contest.

"There's no doubt a Worthing Birdman would bring considerable benefit to the town by attracting thousands of people and showing we are a go-ahead town with extensive attractions," said Mr Livermore.

The Bognor Birdman contest started as the International Birdman Rally in Selsey, West Sussex, in 1971 and moved to the town in 1978.

Thousands of spectators watch as the contestants run off the end of the pier in winged inventions in an attempt to stay airborne for the longest distance.

After a 60ft (18m) section of the Grade II listed pier in Bognor was knocked down in March, the water is no longer deep enough there for the contest.

Organisers are looking for a new venue for this year, and have said they are waiting for a firm offer from either Brighton or Worthing.

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