is it the end of the lions’ bonfires in beverley, east yorkshire?

Beverley Lions Annual Bonfire, Beverley Westwood
Beverley Lions Annual Bonfire, Beverley Westwood

Beverley Lions are warning that this year’s bonfire night celebration on Beverley Westwood – which attracts crowds of thousands – could be the last.

Record crowds of around 10,000 flocked to last year’s bonfire and firework display, which has been provided by the Lions for many years.

But the charity group says that while this year’s bonfire will go ahead as usual on Monday November 5, future events are in jeopardy.

Lions publicity officer Alan Porter said the future of the event is in doubt because they have been forced to pay for a private security firm to supervise traffic management arrangements on the night.

In the past this role has been carried out by the police, but Mr Porter said the Lions have been told that the police will no longer be able help this year because of financial constraints.

He said this had left the Lions with no choice but to pay a private firm to oversee the traffic arrangements. This will add nearly £800 to the cost of staging the annual display, on top of the £3,500 which the Lions already pay for the fireworks.

He said the total cost of providing the event will now be about £5,000, which the Lions have to find from their charity fund.

In previous years the cost has been covered by a bucket donation on the night but Mr Porter said unless the public are willing to increase their donations then the future of the event will be in doubt.

“We can’t charge admission because the Westwood is open common land,” he said.

“The police normally help us with the traffic arrangements and East Riding Council does the road closures. The council is still prepared to do the road closures, but we have been told that we will get no police help because of financial constraints.

“The impact of the extra cost will depend on how much we can collect in our buckets on the night. Unless people put more money in our buckets, then in future years it will be in doubt. We are not intending to pack it in, but unless we can cover our costs, then we might have to.”

Mr Porter said the event has also suffered another setback in that the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield, which in the past has provided army personnel to help rope off the public areas and clean up afterwards, may not be able to help this year.

A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said the event organiser is responsible for the traffic management.

“On a pre-planned event when traffic management issues are expected, the police cannot utilise emergency powers and road closures need to be applied for by the event organisers through the relevant local authority,” she said.

“The event was brought to the Safety Advisory Group, comprising of a number of agencies, who are there to advise on all aspects of the event management and safety. This should be normal practice for all events.

“Through the safety advisory group, it was highlighted to the organisers that the management of their event is the responsibility of the organisers. For the last three years the police have provided resources to assist with the delivery of this event and will be policing the bonfire night event; ensuring public safety and maintaining and managing crime and disorder, however the police will not be staffing road closures and managing traffic that is a result of the event being held.

“It is the responsibility of the event organisers to ensure that the appropriate plan and resources are put in place to meet the need for public safety.”