Nottingham Bonfire Night cancellation ‘another case of starving residents of community services’

Bonfire Night at the Forest Rec as seen in previous years
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have argued the cancellation of Bonfire Night in Nottingham is “just another case of starving our residents of community services”.

Labour-run Nottingham City Council said it has “reluctantly taken the decision to cancel this year’s Bonfire Night and fireworks display due to increased costs caused by the cost-of-living crisis”.

The event was due to be staged at the Forest Recreation Ground on Saturday, November 5, but it has now been cancelled.

It would have been the first Bonfire Night event in three years, with previous events cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

Cllr Kevin Clarke (Nottm Ind), the leader of the opposition, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I think it’s very sad we are not having a Bonfire Night.

“We’ve suffered the loss of public events with Covid, and the cost is minuscule in the grand scheme of the budget.

“If we can afford to pay an extra £2million out in officer wages, we surely could have held an event.

“[It is] just another case of starving our residents of community services.

“Value for money doesn’t come into it with this council.”

Its cancellation comes amid significant cuts to other community services including the potential closure of three city libraries, while just four of nine children’s centres will be retained as part of extensive budget cuts announced earlier this year.

Cllr Andrew Rule (Con), who represents Clifton West, said: “Yet another casualty of Nottingham Labour’s disastrous financial handling of the city’s finances from Robin Hood Energy to the Housing Revenue Account.

“It is a good job Christmas isn’t dependent on Nottingham Labour’s management of council finances because that would surely be next.”

Nottingham City Council is forecast to be left with a £13m hole compared to its initial budget predictions, with roughly £6.9m of this required for a 10 per cent pay rise for staff.

The council’s budget for 2022/23 was approved during a meeting on March 7 this year, with a general fund budget of £227.6m.

But inflationary pressures now mean it is £13.2m adverse with a budget requirement of £240.9m in the first half of the year.

Speaking of the financial pressures, Pavlos Kotsonis (Lab), portfolio holder for leisure, culture and planning at the council, said: “We know the Bonfire Night event at The Forest is really popular with many people and we were so keen to run it this year after two years away due to Covid.

“We are not happy that the event had to be cancelled again.

“Unfortunately it’s one of the difficult decisions we had to take as we face increases in energy and prices in the broader economy.

“We were however really pleased to have had an extended ten-day Goose Fair which brought a lot of enjoyment to Nottingham families.

“The much-anticipated Christmas market will also be going ahead at no cost to the taxpayer.”

The authority says other events are still taking place, however, including the Winter Wonderland, which is staged by the Mellors Group at no cost to the taxpayer.

James Mellors, of the Mellors Group, said: “I understand the council’s position on this and I’m fully in support of them cancelling it for this year.

“It feels such a shame after doing this for over 30 years but these things have to be done under the present climate.

“We hope to work with the council to put on a bigger and better event next year.”

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