Kidsgrove Rotary Club have provided a full copy of the open letter which they sent to The Sentinel in response to the events relating to Kidsgrove Bonfire and Fireworks display. It now appears that Kidsgrove Bonfire and Fireworks display is taking place at Clough Hall Park, organised by Paul Warrick and his funfair business.
Below is a full copy of the letter sent by Kidsgrove Rotary Club.
The Sentinel carried a story on Friday 5 October headlined “Police pull plug on Clough Hall Park fireworks display in Kidsgrove due to safety concerns”.
Your readers may now be aware that a Bonfire & Fireworks Display is in fact going ahead in Clough Hall park on Saturday 3rd November. The display that is now planned for this year is a commercial enterprise by Mr Paul Warwick, who is the owner of the funfair which has been part of the event for over 40 years. Mr Warwick has appointed an experienced Events Manager, Mr Philip Miller formerly of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, to work with Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Staffordshire Police to ensure that their requirements are met. This will allow Mr Warwick to hold a bonfire and fireworks display in Clough Hall Park on November 3rd and ensure that his business does not lose revenue as a result of the cancellation.
The Rotary Club of Kidsgrove wishes Mr Warwick every success in this enterprise for the sake of his business and his employees but I would stress that the event that will now take place is a commercial enterprise and has nothing to do with the Rotary Club of Kidsgrove or our club's charitable causes. Mr Miller has explained to the Rotary Club of Kidsgrove, on Mr Warwick's behalf, that they hope to generate sufficient funds from the event to make some donations of their own to local charities. We hope that they manage to achieve this.
In recent years the Rotary Club of Kidsgrove's net profits from the Bonfire & Fireworks Display have averaged around £4,300. We cancelled our event this year as the cost to us of hiring the additional plant and labour being specified by the police and the borough council would have wiped out all our profits, meaning that the considerable amounts of time and effort invested by us would have yielded no money for us to use for the benefit of the community of Kidsgrove.
Mr Warwick is himself having to spend very considerable amounts of money to meet the requirements set by Staffordshire Police and Mr Miller has explained to us how disproportionate these requirements are when compared to similar events held annually in North Staffordshire of which he has personal experience.
We remain mystified by the attitude of Staffordshire Police to this year's charity event and frustrated at the Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council officials who, apparently lacking any relevant training or experience, are unable to judge whether the police requirements are proportionate or otherwise and can do no more than send electronic copies of the Health & Safety Executive's rules in response to any queries.
It seems clear that the stance of the police towards this year's event is a response to the problems caused by gangs of drunken teenagers. These are children, under the legal age for buying and consuming alcohol, getting drunk and indulging in anti-social behaviour. According to the police, though the Rotary Club of Kidsgrove was not informed at the time, there was an incident last year outside the park, outside a nearby off-licence we believe, in which a police officer was hurt.
The problem of anti-social behaviour caused or exacerbated by under-age drinking has existed in Kidsgrove for several years and is a source of annoyance to many residents of the town. For the vulnerable and elderly it is almost certainly a source of fear. These teenagers will not suffer from the cancellation of the Rotary Club's Bonfire and Fireworks display as they will still have their fun at the event being run by Paul Warwick. The people who will suffer are those in Kidsgrove who would have benefited from the money raised by the Rotary Club event. These include the elderly, the vulnerable and those in need as well as those organisations that keep teenagers off the streets and give them something meaningful to do - such as the Scout movement in Kidsgrove and Newchapel, the Boy's Brigade, Kidsgrove Cricket Club, Kidsgrove Athletic Football Club, other local Junior Football Club’s, Kidsgrove & Linley Rugby Club, etc.
The Rotary Club of Kidsgrove remains hopeful of resuming its “Annual” Bonfire & Fireworks Display in Clough Hall Park next year and hopes also that the police make some significant progress in Kidsgrove during the next few months in preventing the sale of alcohol to teenagers, curbing drunkenness and anti-social behaviour on the streets and educating teenagers & their parents about the problems caused by drunken behaviour, so that we have a safe environment in which to run our event.
Rotarian Howard Turner