Leeds City Council's bonfire cancellation is cost cutting wrapped in a Covid overcoat

FROM: Coun Andrew Carter, Leader of the Conservative Group, Leeds City Council

Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:45 am
Leeds City Council's organised bonfires have been cancelled for the second year.

I read with interest the article ‘Leeds City Council’s bonfire and firework events cancelled for 2021’ (YEP, September 21).

I still fail to understand the distinction between bonfire night, Light Night and a football match. The latter are also outdoor events, indeed, over 36,000 fans attended Elland Road earlier this month to watch Leeds play Liverpool!

The article mentioned that this decision was driven by government guidance requiring people to show evidence of Covid status.

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Yet Council literature boasts Light Night attracts 150,000 visitors to the city centre. All of whom will be mingling, interacting and moving about to standand view at the attractions.

Presumably the Council will be checking Covid status of those attending? Whilst it is a minor inconvenience, other venues are managing events in a perfectly acceptable way. I see no reason why a managed bonfire event could not be staged at Roundhay Park.

Issuing free tickets to control numbers, and controlling access in the way that other events manage to operate. Yes, there would be a cost to the council, but it would mean that a safe and entertaining firework display can be staged, ensuring that our city is not without one of the municipal highlights of the year.

This decision is also going to place extra pressure on the local events being hosted by community groups in our district centres, who may not be prepared to cater for large crowds in attendance.

I fully agree events should be safely managed, so I am left therefore thinking that this decision to cancel again is purely a cost-saving measure by this administration, wrapped up in a Covid overcoat.