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50,000 watch Darlington fireworks display facing axe in austerity cuts
A POPULAR fireworks display enjoyed one of its biggest ever turnouts this weekend – but may be axed next year due to council budget cuts.
South Park was full to capacity on Saturday after 50,000 people turned out to watch Darlington Borough Council’s free annual fireworks display.
This year, the theme was Saturday Night at the Movies, with displays set to music eliciting cheers from the crowd.
However, the event may not go ahead next year as councillors have proposed to scrap the bonfire and fireworks spectacular in a bid to save a total of £22m of its budget over the next four years.
The news comes as fire brigades across the North- East announced a fairly uneventful Bonfire Night weekend, with no serious incidents reported by any of the forces.
The forces have attributed this to a campaign of education getting through – a cornerstone of which is advising people to attend organised displays, such as the one in South Park.
In County Durham and Darlington, fire crews attended six bonfire-related incidents, compared with 48 incidents last year.
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said the 87.5 per cent decrease was largely a result of their bonfire campaign.
Crews were kept busy with the aftermath of a major factory fire in Newton Aycliffe, which started shortly before 1pm and involved 12 appliances and two aerial ladder platforms.
Paul Reay, director of community safety, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to continue the reduction in the number of bonfirerelated incidents requiring our attendance over the past four years. To achieve a reduction shows the dedication of all our staff to work towards the service’s vision of Safest People, Safest Places.”
In the Northumbria Police force area, no major incidents were reported, although officers attended a total of 505 bonfire and firework-related incidents between 4pm on Friday and 1am on Saturday.
Four arrests were made.
Chief Inspector Bob Ryan, of Northumbria Police’s harm reduction department, said: “We are pleased to report that Bonfire Night passed without any major police incidents.
“Most people appear to have listened to advice given by ourselves and the fire service to attend pre-organised bonfire and firework displays, which are monitored by the emergency services and are managed with safety in mind.
“It also indicates that key safety messages and advice given out in this year’s safety campaign – which aimed to reduce injuries and deaths caused by bonfires and fireworks – have registered.”
In Teesside, it was also a fairly quiet Bonfire Night, with no major incidents.
A Cleveland Fire Brigade spokeswoman said: “There were a high number of callouts due to the time of year, but no major incidents.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire Service also reported no serious incidents.