Public fireworks displays at Dundee’s Baxter and Lochee parks have been cancelled due to safety concerns.
Councillors have voted to uphold findings of a safety study carried out by the emergency services, which concluded the venues are no longer suitable for large gatherings. As a result, £50,000 allocated for spending on fireworks has now been set aside for “other events in the city, including an enhanced winter events programme,” according to the council’s report.
Crowds of up to 25,000 have attended the free unticketed displays in previous years but the decision means the council will no longer host them this year or in upcoming years. The study was conducted under proposals for Protect Duty legislation issued by the UK Home Office.
These were formed from nationwide consultations following the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. It’s also known as Martyn’s Law after one of the victims killed.
Before the motion passed, an array of views, some passionately held, lit up the council’s city development committee on Monday. Labour councillors gave firm objections.
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“I’m extremely disappointed that we bring forward this proposal,” said Labour councillor, Kevin Keenan. “Fifty thousand people attend it; a third of the city’s population believe that the firework display is something they should attend,” he added with support from his newly-elected party colleague Dorothy McHugh.
Speaking in favour, council leader John Alexander said the money could be better spent elsewhere. He said: “We’re living in a cost of living crisis…and we’re literally talking about an event where we put £50,000 and set it on fire for a 15 minute display…I get all the other issues discussed (but)…there is no material benefit.”
What do you think of the decision? Share your thoughts in the comments.
But Liberal Democrat Councillor Fraser Macpherson picked up on the issue of the money and highlighted that the proposed motion was not clear on specifics of how it is to be spent. He said: “There is a rather vague commitment about using the £50,000 in relation to our Christmas events…We do not have any specific proposal of free or free events using that funding at Christmas time that benefits the Dundee public.”
Broughty Ferry Conservative councillor Derek Scott raised concerns the cancellations could actually cause further dangers. He said: “The fireworks display is being cancelled for safety concerns but that’s going to create additional concerns as more people have home firework displays.”
Gregor Hamilton, head of planning and economic development at the city council, said other major events held at the two city parks could be under threat. He said all future events will be assessed to ensure they meet the new guidelines.
It’s understood the popular Ladyboys of Bangkok show will go ahead as planned on July 31 this year at Baxter Park. Lochee Park has previously played host to events including tribute-based music event, Fake Festival.
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