Dunstable annual fireworks display fizzles out due to extra costs to protect pitch
The annual free display had been going for more than 30 years
Dunstable’s historic annual Bonfire Night fireworks display has been cancelled.
The loss of its former home at Creasey Park and the lack of a suitable safe venue in the town meant Dunstable town councillors voted on Monday to call it quits.
The annual free display had been going for more than 30 years but a decision by Central Bedfordshire Council, who own the Creasey Park site, to cover it with artificial turf last year meant the council could have to find around £45,000 to £60,000 extra just to protect the pitch.
The siting of the turf would also mean a much-reduced audience capacity for a display that normally attracts around 15,000 people.
Chairman of the Community Services Committee, Cllr Peter Hollick, said it could have cost three times more than the annual display itself to safeguard the pitch.
“With regret we decided to not hold the firework display,” he said.
“I’m sorry it has to end,” he told the Gazette. “Many people enjoy fireworks, but equally there are people who dread the night.”
In the report councillors were told: “The fireworks display is Dunstable Town Council’s most hazardous event. It is also one of the most complained about events within the Town Council’s events programme. Therefore, priority on assessing sites was looked at with health and safety and neighbouring properties/communities being the most significant issues.”
Nine new sites were looked at, although only four were in Dunstable. Parking was an issue with all of the sites.
A further suggestion of a community fireworks grant for local organisations, using the £18,000 fireworks budget, was also decided against after discussions it would be too much of an imposition for groups on health and safety grounds.
“As a council we are responsible for the safety of our residents,” said Cllr Hollick. “We have to cancel the display unless someone can give us a venue that satisfies safety issues.”
Speaking after the meeting Town Clerk David Ashlee said: “It’s not a decision councillors wanted to take but they didn’t really have much choice.”
But in a Facebook post after the meeting, Cllr John Gurney, the only councillor to vote to keep the display, said: “The money that would have been spent on the annual Guy Fawkes fireworks night, will be added to the Winter Lights fund for this year.
“So, we are effectively replacing the centuries old commemoration of the capture of a failed Catholic terrorist and his part in the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James I, with a festival of light to include the celebration of at least three gods, two Hindu and one Christian.”
He urged people to register their protests before the decision is ratified before the full council meeting on October 4.
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