Greenwich Council’s funding for Blackheath Fireworks fizzles out

September 16, 2010 by  

The popular Blackheath Fireworks risk turning into a damp squib after Greenwich Council “reluctantly” decided to withdraw funding, leaving partners Lewisham Council to find the extra cash for the event to go ahead.

The annual fireworks display, which attracts an attendance of about 80,000,  has until now been jointly produced by Greenwich and Lewisham councils but with large cuts to their grant from central government anticipated, Greenwich has pulled out of this year’s display in order to protect “front line services”.

Greenwich’s decision not to fund the popular pyrotechnics display has left Lewisham Council requiring public donations to meet the shortfall to allow the event to go ahead.

Lewisham council announced its appeal earlier this week, with Mayor Bullock commenting: “I don’t want to see this event cancelled without giving people the chance to show their support. Just £1 each from every one who attends would ensure that the skies sparkle as usual over the heath this year.”

Local blogger, Darryl at 853, was quick to spot that Lewisham’s announcement conspicuously failed to mention their traditional event partner, Greenwich Council.

Greenwich Council has now confirmed to Greenwich.co.uk that they have decided not to contribute to the funding of the event.

A Greenwich Council Spokesperson said:

“The Council has reluctantly taken the decision not to fund the event this year, having been advised to anticipate up to 40% cuts to its grant, representing some £70m when the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review is published on 20 October. The Council is committed to maintaining front line services and has a strong track record of identifying efficiency savings, which has enabled us to freeze council tax in six of the last 12 years. “

Back in October 2008, it was Greenwich councillors who were worried that Lewisham may withdraw funding from the event. Blackheath Westcombe councillor, Alex Wilson, raised the issue after there were local news reports that Lewisham could pull out. In response  Councillor John Fahy, Cabinet Member for Culture & Olympics, stated that councillor Wilson should not believe everything he read in the newspapers.

Visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/fireworks if you would like to contribute.

Updated 17th September

Blackheath Westcombe councillor, Alex Wilson, has responded to the news with this comment:

I think that Greenwich Labour have been looking for an excuse to stop paying their share of the funding for Blackheath Fireworks for years and are now using Government cuts as cover. I think that this has been done without probably considering all the options. I am worried that Blackheath is going to see the bare brunt of the cut backs in spending whilst Woolwich remains untouched.

Two other points come to mind when I think about the Blackheath Fireworks.

Firstly, the safety of the public, fire and health officials often state that they would rather people go to professionally organised events rather than risk using fireworks at home, if this event is not provided then it is likely that there will be more fireworks parties happening at home and so therefore at greater risk of accidents.

Secondly, on the night of the fireworks both Blackheath Villages and Blackheath Standards shops, restaurants and pubs are able to attract a large number of customers, this helps to fuel the local economy.

Comments

12 Responses to “Greenwich Council’s funding for Blackheath Fireworks fizzles out”

  1. rjp on September 16th, 2010 5:14 pm

    Can I contribute with stipulations?

    “Here’s a tenner but only if you get rid of the awful loud music”

  2. Greenwich refuses to fund Blackheath Fireworks « The Blackheath Bugle on September 16th, 2010 9:18 pm

    [...] refuses to fund Blackheath Fireworks Jump to Comments As mentioned on greenwich.co.uk, Greenwich Council has decided that it cannot afford to co-fund the Blackheath Fireworks with [...]

  3. Paul Webbewood on September 16th, 2010 9:34 pm

    Will Greenwich Council also cancel the extravagant Mayoral inauguration which normally takes place in the Painted Hall in May at a cost of some £30,000?

  4. kaz on September 17th, 2010 10:16 am

    so Bullock wants to set off fireworks but can’t be bothered about the rubbish left on local greens and woods.
    We have these things going off all year round, so as far as I am concerned ban them full stop.

  5. Indigo on September 17th, 2010 11:58 am

    Might be a good idea if senior officers took voluntary pay cuts. From Daily Mail 8 September 2009, “How Council chiefs spend your money”:

    WHO: Mary Ney, chief executive, Greenwich Council.
    SALARY: £182,000.
    TOTAL CLAIMS: £8,017.35.
    HISTORY: Joined in 2000 from Harrow Council, London, where she was director of social services.
    WHAT SHE CLAIMED: Enjoyed two trips to Beijing on the taxpayer during the 2008 Olympics. She claimed £5,352 ‘travel expenses’ including £4,790 on business-class flights, £1.83 on a single taxi fare in China, £74 on a taxi from Heathrow Airport to Woolwich, South London, and £59 for nine tins of biscuits ‘as a gift to the Chongwen District of Beijing’.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1208439/Stamp-duty-watches-breakfast-Cannes-How-council-chiefs-spend-money.html

    Why does someone paid £182,000 need to claim for a £1.83 taxi fare?

    Incidentally, that means that the Greenwich Council CEO is now paid more the the Prime Minister. (One of Gordon Brown’s last acts was to cut the PM’s salary, from £194,000 to £150,000.)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mandrake/7805707/Gordon-Brown-accepts-a-pay-cut-for-David-Cameron.html

  6. Anne Wollenberg on September 17th, 2010 9:56 pm

    Wish they’d scrap sodding Greenwich Time instead.

  7. Indigo on September 20th, 2010 10:08 am

    Update: Mary Ney is paid about £40,000 per annum more than the Prime Minister.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1313489/On-public-payroll-9-000-staff-earning-PM.html

    This is bonkers. Apart from the fact that the British Prime Minister’s job is far more onerous and complicated and significant than that of an almost invisible local council CEO, that £40,000 could save one job at least from the 40% cuts at Greenwich Council. Good old “Labour”, filling its boots as usual at the expense of working families.

    How many other senior staff at Greenwich Council paid more than the Prime Minister? What for? (Don’t cite the Audit Office assessment – we now know that the Audit Office had lost its way and was actively implementing Labour Government policy, not being independent at all.)

  8. Indigo on September 20th, 2010 11:47 am

    Paul Kenny, the chief executive of the GMB union: “Excessive pay levels for managers, which started in the private sector, has bedevilled both sectors in recent years. It’s now high time to call a halt and get back to reality. None of these people deserve to be paid more than the Prime Minister. That should be a benchmark we all follow.”

    More than 9,000 public sector employees earn more than the Prime Minister, according to most comprehensive analysis [by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for the BBC’s "Panorama" programme, through more than 2,400 Freedom of Information requests] of state pay levels ever undertaken.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/8012668/Public-sector-pay-9000-on-public-payroll-are-paid-more-than-the-Prime-Minister.html

    Business and workers’ groups called last night for urgent steps to bring high public sector pay “back to reality”.

    The British Chambers of Commerce said “messed up” incentives were undermining the economy by tempting talented people away from the wealth-creating private sector.

    Completely bonkers.

  9. Blackheath fireworks – could Greenwich have found the cash? « 853 on September 21st, 2010 2:11 pm

    [...] picked up the Blackheath fireworks story last week and found out what was really happening – Lewisham Council’s passing round the begging bowl because Greenwich Council pulled out. The Evening Standard regurgitated the Lewisham press release without bothering to pick up the [...]

  10. Greenwich Council splashes cash on Olympics PR « 853 on September 28th, 2010 10:05 am

    [...] some interesting news about Greenwich Council you won’t read anywhere else. Remember how it cut funding for Blackheath fireworks because it said it needed to save money? [...]

  11. Greenwich Council cut fireworks, but kept mayor’s party « 853 on October 5th, 2010 5:17 pm

    [...] Council confirms it has raised £10,000 towards the cost of next month’s Blackheath fireworks following Greenwich Council’s withdrawal, some of the sums involved have been [...]

  12. Blackheath Fireworks 2011 | Greenwich.co.uk on November 4th, 2011 2:39 pm

    [...] donations are sought by the council, online and on the night, to help fund the event which was previously financed by jointly by Lewisham and Greenwich councils. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites [...]