Tourism chiefs drum up support for fireworks display


BONFIRE Night may yet go with a bang in York this year, after tourism bosses revealed their plans to prevent another firework blackout.

A number of organisations in the city have been approached by York Tourism Bureau, seeking support for a public event.

York drew widespread criticism last year when it had no public fireworks display, but the ruling Liberal Democrats on cash-strapped City of York Council have rejected spending £50,000 on an event this year.

Guy Fawkes was born and raised in York, and the tourism bureau says the city is passing up an opportunity for global publicity. It is now taking matters into its own hands.

Bureau chief executive Gillian Cruddas said: “We do understand the budgetary constraints. However, we’re currently exploring several options to try to secure funding for the event.

“We’re also looking at a longer term solution for York so that both residents and visitors can celebrate bonfire night and York’s unique heritage.”

David Hattersley’s de Bretton hospitality group recently bought the Guy Fawkes Hotel in High Petergate, believed to be the plotter’s birthplace.

Mr Hattersley said: “York’s leaders should realise that the city’s history is its finest asset, and promote it properly. The fact that Guy Fawkes’ home town can’t even stage a Bonfire Night celebration is embarrassing, and shows an all-too typical lack of civic vision and imagination. In the absence of the political will to get things done, we would be keen to talk with other businesses who are interested in helping to stage the fireworks spectacular York deserves.”

The Lib Dems rejected spending money on a firework display after it fared poorly in the city-wide budget consultation. They also cited the environmental damage of fireworks and bonfires.

Council leader Steve Galloway said: “York residents have given their verdict and they quite clearly do not see fireworks displays as a high priority for use of council taxpayers money.”

He said the Lib Dems’ reluctance to put on fireworks had been “vindicated”, but added: “We have no objection to privately funded fireworks displays and, if the York Tourism bureau members wish to sponsor a fireworks display, then that would be a matter for them.”

Christian Vassie, the council’s executive member for leisure and culture, said the Environment Agency had reported that 15 minutes of fireworks on Millennium night in London had produced more dioxins than south east London’s incinerator would in more than 100 years.

He said: “It would be odd for a council which is making so much of an effort, with residents, to reduce pollution and waste to then undo all its good work by throwing money at firework displays that pump pollution and CO2 back into the atmosphere.”

While York contemplates another year without fireworks however, other towns in our region plan to celebrate as usual.

Gerard Tubb, of Easingwold Scout Group Committee, said they would hold their annual event, which is expected to attract thousands of people to the town’s Maize Maize.

Mr Tubb said: “Don’t worry about York’s lack of a firework display. Think of it as an opportunity to spend a wonderful evening in Easingwold instead!”