A 500-signature petition has been handed to council chiefs in an effort to discover the true value of Sussex's largest free air show.

Petitioners want a public debate about the Airbourne air show in Eastbourne, which last month drew 800,000 visitors over four days.

A row broke out after council and business leaders claimed the event, which is run by Eastbourne Borough Council, is worth £20 million to the town's economy.

The Eastbourne Green Party suggested the figure had been plucked out of thin air to create better headlines.

The petition demands a root-and-branch examination of Airbourne to address concerns about pollution, safety, business disruption and intrusiveness.

Ruth Winbourne, of Sidley Road, Eastbourne, said: "Our petition has been supported by people of all ages across the town.

"Some people who attend and enjoy the show also signed as they, too, wish to see how their money is being spent and want to have a say in the future of Airbourne."

Airbourne is one of the town's most lucrative annual tourist events.

But this year activists have raised questions about its true value and its environmental impact.

Green Party members insist aviation is the most damaging form of transport for accelerating climate change and want sanctions imposed.

They have also said having so many aircraft flying above the town is like "sticking a mini-Gatwick airport over Eastbourne".

The Green Party want the Tory-led borough council to be charged a climate change levy and for a full environmental impact study to be conducted.

It said each visitor would have to spend more than £25 during their visit to reach the £20 million figure quoted.

Party co-ordinator Leslie Dalton said: "Even if anyone were to accept such a figure, how much of this would actually reach the pockets of Eastbourne businesses?

"Money spent at the seafront stalls goes straight out of our local economy.

"Considering that by the council's own admission this event has taken 13 years to reach a point where it covers its own basic costs, such a claim must be taken with great scepticism."

Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce said there was a misunderstanding about the £20 million figure.

Its president Steven Goss-Turner said the money was generated over the course of the year, not over the four days the show runs.