Rules put a dampener on bonfire night plan

Zanna Winspear with others from St Peter's road including her mum Jodie who are planning a local bonfire''w134512
Zanna Winspear with others from St Peter's road including her mum Jodie who are planning a local bonfire''w134512

Plans for the first community bonfire in Whitby for many years have been dampened down due to health and safety rules and regulations.

Residents on the East side had been planning on getting together to hold a bonfire and fireworks party on the field near the park and the community centre.

Hundreds of people had expressed interest in coming but the event has been scaled down because of the amount of red tape involved.

There will now just be fireworks on Tuesday night and organiser Jodie Winspear and friends will be selling soup, toffee, cupcakes and drinks. This will be in aid of the neurosurgery research fund at James Cook hospital where Jodie has been treated since being diagnosed with a brain tumour three years ago.

Residents aren’t allowed to have the fire because it is on council land and the fire service has said that if a fire is lit then they will put it out - as they have had to do in previous years.

To hold an organised event, permission needs to be obtained from the borough council, police, fire brigade and insurance put in place if the public are attending.

Jodie, of St Peter’s Road said: “They said I would have to get in touch with the council but I don’t want to have all that on my back. When I posted it on Facebook I thought maybe a couple of us would get together, light some fireworks for the bairns.

“I did not expect it to get that popular, I thought maybe about 20 would do it but there were about a hundred that said they wanted to come.”

There hasn’t been an organised event in Whitby since the bonfies which used to be held at the rugby club but they stopped some years ago. The nearest organised event taking place on Bonfire Night is at Lythe.

Whitby fire station watch manager, Chris Watson said an organised event was what Whitby needed but it had to be done via the proper channels.

In the past the fire service has even considered putting on an event but had to rule it out due to lack of funds.

He told the Gazette: “It is something that Whitby is really lacking. There isn’t an organised event like many other places but it needs to be done correctly, with plenty of planning and risk assessments need to be done. It is quite a big deal for one evening.”

In relation to the East side event Mr Watson said residents were allowed to let off fireworks but not build or light a fire.

He added: “You don’t need permission for fireworks but if there is a fire we will put it out, as we have done in previous years. If one is being built the council will remove what is being deposited.”

Whitby Town Council said at a meeting on Tuesday night it would be prepared to provide public liability insurance at a future organised event and that perhaps the Lions organisation could get involved.

Coun Simon Parkes said he would be interested to see statistics for firework related injuries comparing the east and west sides of town which would show where the need was for such an event and Coun Amanda Smith said there was concern about kids in that part of town building their own fires.

Jodie said she shared their concerns and hoped something could be put in place for next year, bringing the community on the east side together.

She added: “It would be lovely if we could build it up, get a regular thing going and neighbours come together rather than be sat in their own gardens.”