Cllr Allan Knox has succeded in getting Ribble Valley BC to review the operation of its Events Safety Advisory Group (ESAG) after ESAG was castigated by many for the cancellation of this year’s Clitheroe Community Bonfire.
A motion to the council in Cllr Knox’s name was passed unanimously.
Speaking at the council meeting Cllr Allan Knox said:
May I start off with a confession – I don’t like bonfires!
However I must admit that I do like fireworks…
So every year when Clitheroe has its bonfire the other Cllr Knox will trek up to the Castle Field, while I will stay indoors and wait for the first bang before going to watch the fireworks from my back yard.
However, just because I don’t like bonfires doesn’t mean to say that Clitheroe shouldn’t have a Community Bonfire – it is by far and away the safest way of marking the 5th of November.
I also feel it is appropriate to pay tribute to those who have organised the Clitheroe Community Bonfire over the last 15 years or so. It has been a truly successful event over that time although it may have become a victim of its own success, with the huge turnout last year, which has brought us to where we are now.
But turning to the subject of the motion I have tabled tonight I do have great concerns that when relationships between the organisers of a community bonfire and an advisory group have got to the stage that the organisers of the previously successful event quit then something is very wrong.
And it is clear from the minutes of Policy & Finance Committee on 29th March 2011 that this is not the first time there has been conflict between a community event and ESAG.
One of the things that is great about Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley is the fact that we are good at putting on community events – they are what light up our towns and villages.
And key to those events are the organisers. After an event organisers may be tired, but they should never be saying “I’m never going to do that again” because of ESAG
Surely it is the role of this council to be advising, and assisting in a constructive helpful and timely manner – not being the organisation that is, rightly or wrongly, seen to be the villain of the piece.
Much is said about the respect agenda these days. I believe if we as council really want to show that respect to the communities and organisations we work with then those public facing parts of the council must behave at all times in a respectful and professional way.
Finally it is important to remember that ESAG is an advisory body – not a statutory one. Therefore at no time should it be dictating people what they should or should not do. The only people who can do that are those who have statutory powers.
Mr Mayor I don’t think anyone in this council chamber wants to be where we are now in relation to the bonfire or other events.
However, I do believe this motion gives us a chance to move forward and ensure that we have not seen the last community bonfire in Clitheroe.