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BONFIRE NIGHT EVENT CANCELLED

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Sadberge Parish Council will not be organising a Bonfire Night event this year.

For many years there has been a tradition of having a community bonfire in Town Farm Field, Sadberge, on 5th November.  This started out as an informal event, with people bringing their own fireworks, but in 2013 the Friends of Sadberge Festival began to provide funding for an organised community fireworks display and in 2015 Sadberge Parish Council took over the organisation of the Bonfire Night event, still with financial support from the Friends of Sadberge Festival.

The Bonfire Night fireworks displays in Town Farm Field have been organised to a very high standard.  Approval for each event has been obtained from Darlington Borough Council's Public Events Safety Advisory Group (PESAG), and great attention has been paid to safety.  Detailed risk assessments and carefully-thought-out fireworks firing plans have been drawn up, and local volunteers have acted as marshals.  The events themselves have gone very well, with very positive feedback about the fireworks displays and the "community feel" of the events.

The problem is that the Bonfire Night event has become a victim of its own success.  Specifically, the event has become too popular with people from outside Sadberge, particularly since Darlington Borough Council stopped organising its Bonfire Night firework displays.  Social media has also played a significant role in spreading the news that Sadberge puts on an excellent firework display on Bonfire Night.  Too many people are driving to Sadberge to come to the event, causing real problems with parking, traffic safety and emergency vehicle access.  The Bonfire Night Organiser and his team can ensure that the fireworks display is run safely and the volunteer marshals can keep an eye on the people in Town Farm Field, but they can't control what has become traffic chaos on the village roads.

The Bonfire Night Organiser has consulted professional traffic management companies, who advised that it wouldn't be practical to implement traffic management measures for the event.  Also, making the event "ticket only" wouldn't work because the layout of the area makes it impractical to control access to Town Farm Field.  It's straightforward to count people going into Town Farm Field through the gate, but it would be difficult and expensive to stop people from sneaking in through Hampass.

At its meeting on 11-Sep-2018, Sadberge Parish Council decided – reluctantly – that it is no longer possible to organise a safe Bonfire Night event.  Therefore, there will not be a bonfire or fireworks display in Town Farm Field this year.

As the Bonfire Night Organiser said at the Parish Council meeting on 11-Sep-2018, the aim has always been to provide a community event for Sadberge residents, not to put on a Bonfire Night fireworks display for the whole of Darlington.

If you have any ideas about how the Parish Council could provide a safe Bonfire Night event in future years, please contact any of the Sadberge parish councillors or the Bonfire Night Organiser, David Elmer (07941-612409).


Note: The Buck Inn is planning to put on a small firework display in the car park behind the pub on Bonfire Night.  For further information, visit the Buck Inn's Facebook page or phone 01325-401472.


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