Great Yarmouth air show cancellation: Are we taking the threat of terrorism too seriously?

PUBLISHED: 14:07 03 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:07 03 February 2017

The Twister Duo performing in the sky above Hopton at the launch event for the Great Yarmouth Airshow, which was to have been held in June this year. Picture: Steve Adams/Archant

The Twister Duo performing in the sky above Hopton at the launch event for the Great Yarmouth Airshow, which was to have been held in June this year. Picture: Steve Adams/Archant

(C) Archant Norfolk 2016

Geat Yarmouth’s seafront air show has been cancelled this year because of the cost of counter-terrorism measures. It’s a great shame as many of us hoped this event would boost the local economy – but have we, inadvertently, made ourselves the ‘victims’ of terrorism? Are we in danger of stopping events because of our worst fears? Could it be argued that the threat of terrorism is being taken too seriously?

Let me be clear, I use the word ‘victim’ carefully. Those who’ve been caught up in any terror attack would remind us not to take this threat lightly.

Every casualty caused by the act of terrorism is one casualty too many.

Hindsight is of little use, beyond prevention, when protecting the public.

Take France and Germany as examples where excuses, delivered retrospectively, were not well received.

Making the decision between being ambitious and open for business, against a very remote but possible terrorism event, feels like an impossible gamble.

Images of candlelit vigils and photographs of victims from previous attacks haunt us – just think of how easily the dates and names come to mind: 9/11, 7/7, Nice and Sousse.

We must keep the balance of risk vs reward in perspective, not allowing ‘irrational fear’ to conquer.

In Britain we have thorough rules and guidelines dictating how event managers operate but some critics feel the red tape is restrictive, unnecessary and, in the long run, counterproductive.

So, sadly this time, Great Yarmouth loses out.

But with terrorist activity so incredibly unlikely, let’s get things into perspective….. Statistically speaking, adopting an emotion-less and analytical perspective, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning (and killed) than lose your life in a terrorist atrocity.

You’re more likely to be bitten by a venomous snake than die as a result of an attack.

This scenario sadly epitomises the true meaning of the word ‘terror’…the threat alone, without much realistic prospect of an incident actually happening, instils a paralysis.

What’s changed?

Many callers to my BBC Radio Norfolk phone-in questioned why our attitude to security has changed since the 1980s.

During the days of the IRA, Brits bullishly carried on under the depressing prospect of terrorism – we didn’t give in.

For some reason, modern-day terrorism evokes a greater fear in us.

The explosive device in a bin or under a car has been replaced by the ‘lone wolf ’ with a weapon.

Terrorism has become more terrifying.

The threat is credible.

Events in Paris, Brussels, Nice and Berlin serve as a reminder of why we shouldn’t take a laissez-faire approach.

The air show (based on Lowestoft Air Show’s attendance) could attract at least 350,000 people to come to the town.

It’s a logistical nightmare for the emergency services even without the prospect of wider security issues.

It’s rumoured large public events will be asked to provide evidence of what happens in ‘worst case scenarios’.

Field hospitals, armed responses, concrete barriers and stop and search tactics could be requested.

This is a potential game changer for major events in our county and across the country.

We do well to remember that it’s our courage and inexorable zest for life that these terrorists loathe.

Be aware, not scared.

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