Council cuts see bonfire axed from Portsmouth fireworks show

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IT IS a popular Bonfire Night event – but this year the fireworks at Cosham will have no bonfire.

A decision was made last year by Portsmouth City Council to make savings at the former IBM fireworks and this included getting rid of the bonfire.

The event, held on Bonfire Night next Wednesday, will have a fun fair for the first time in a number of years after police raised safety concerns as well as the usual display of fireworks.

But for Cosham ward councillor Aiden Gray, of the Labour party, it is disappointing that the bonfire will be missing from the popular family event.

He said: ‘It is a terrible shame to see the bonfire cut.

‘I know the council has to make cuts but it is such an important event for a lot of people in the city.

‘I am disappointed the decision is not being looked into more.’

Cllr Gray added that other organisations could have been called upon to help fund the event, on King George V playing fields, off Northern Road.

‘We could have asked the rotary club for example to help and then given proceeds from the night to charity,’ he said.

‘It is such a wonderful event that I think the budget for it needed to be balanced better.

‘They could have had fewer fireworks or cheaper fireworks to include the bonfire but I don’t think much was said about it when the decision was made.

‘The council could have called on the community to help.

‘They should have been able to empower the community to take it on and help.’

But former Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it has been a year since the decision was made and councillors could have arranged something had they wanted to.

‘It was a cross-party decision to cut the bonfire from the events,’ he said.

‘If some councillors wanted to get community groups involved, they have had a whole year to do it.

‘Many people still know the event as the IBM fireworks, even though IBM haven’t sponsored it for years, so the fireworks are continuing.

‘But we have also got the return of the funfair after it was stopped by police for safety reasons.

‘The attractions will be for children under 12 and I think this makes it better for local people.’

The free event opens at 4.30pm with live music from 6pm. The firework display will start at 7.30pm.