By Jhanvi Charkhawala
Leeds City Council’s six annual bonfire events will not take place in 2023, it’s been confirmed this week.
The annual bonfires attracted thousands of people to Bramley Park, East End Park, Middleton Park, Roundhay Park, Springhead Park and Woodhouse Moor and the council took the initial decision to axe the bonfires, which cost £215,000 annually, earlier this year.
The results of a subsequent public consultation into the decision were released this week and showed almost 70% of respondents raising concerns over the impact of the events on local wildlife habitats, a similar number worried about litter and 66% concerned about the impact on domestic animals, including pets.
A council report says: “Some participants expanded on the point of the events’ impact on air quality stating that the reduction around the time that these events take place has health implications for themselves or family members with respiratory issues such as asthma.
“A frequent point raised by survey participants was the concern that members of the public having multiple unregulated home displays would be more detrimental for the environment than having large council run bonfires. Those participants who did not have environmental concerns and expanded upon this outlined that it was due to the event only happening once a year.”
There were around 3,000 responses from across the city to the consultation.
The report concluded: “There are increasing cost pressures associated with holding council bonfire and firework displays which are not sustainable given the financial position that the council faces.
“Significant environmental concerns were raised during consultation and these, coupled with the climate change ambitions of the council would not reflect well given the issues associated with holding large-scale public events of this nature.”
Owing to budget issues and responses to the consultation, the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment this week gave the approval to cease the bonfire and firework events held across various parks of Leeds.
Due to the current increased cost of electricity, gas and fuels the events would cost in excess of £200k for the council.
The report says the Safer Strong Communities Team of Leeds City Council will collaborate closely with communities around the city to reduce any possible negative effects of fireworks and related anti-social behaviour in the days leading up to and on Bonfire Night.
The last events were held in 2019 but have been cancelled in the past three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rising costs.