17:15 Thursday 29th September 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
ANDY BURROWS: One big event that’s not going to happen is the annual Fireworks Fiesta in Peterborough. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that the Nene Park Trust which manages Ferry Meadows where the event traditionally takes place was no longer going to play host to the display, because of traffic problems connected with dealing with the expected 15,000 visitors. It had been hoped an alternative venue could be found, but today it was announced the event had been called off altogether. The Mayor of Peterborough, Paula Thacker, spoke to Paul Stainton on our Peterborough Breakfast Show this morning. (TAPE)
PAULA THACKER: I’m very very disappointed, deeply upset, shocked, angry with James McCullogh and his Trustees, and I suggest that people do look at his Trustees, because unfortunately, I’m going to say this, a lot of people won’t know that we have two councillors on that Trustee board, which I’m really really disappointed as well. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: That was the Mayor of Peterborough, Paula Thacker, wading into that row over the future of the Firework Fiesta. Well one of those Trustees that she named there is Councillor Samantha Dalton, who’s the Cabinet Member for the Environment in Peterborough, and earlier on I asked her if she was as disappointed as the Mayor. (TAPE)
SAMANTHA DALTON: I’m disappointed for the families of Peterborough. Of course I am. However I do think that on this occasion Ferry Meadows has made the right decision, because it’s the wrong venue for such a big event, so close to Peterborough’s wildlife.
ANDY BURROWS: So from that aspect, you think that perhaps it’s not going to take place at Ferry Meadows again.
SAMANTHA DALTON: The decision has been made for it not to be at Ferry Meadows this year. I think there’s been a lot of factors, one of which is the size. I went to the Fireworks Fiesta myself last year, and in my personal opinion the event has got too big for Ferry Meadows. We also have the problem of .. Ferry Meadows there are lots of different access points to the venue. You can’t lock it down. You can’t say we’re restricting the numbers. Because people can just walk in from so many different places. And we’ve also got the additional issue that with the Olympics going on, getting hold of floodlighting for example is a real issue at the moment. So last year it was a very dark walk, and quite frightening for some of the kids I was with, walking into Ferry Meadows. So I genuinely think that it’s the wrong place, because of the city’s wildlife, but also it’s too small a venue for the size of the event as it is now.
ANDY BURROWS: You are one of the members that Councillor Paula Thacker mentioned as sitting on the board of the Nene Park Trust. How much input did you have into their decision not to invite Firework Fiesta back this year?
SAMANTHA DALTON: I’d just like to point out that this interview I’m doing as the Cabinet Member for Environment. I’m not speaking on behalf of the Nene Park Trust in this particular interview. I am on the board. I fully support the board. It’s an operational decision, and it is something we were advised of as a board, and we support that decision.
ANDY BURROWS: Isn’t Fireworks Fiesta though one of those big events that brings an awful lot of people together, and is one of those great community events in Peterborough? Wouldn’t it be a shame if it was lost?
SAMANTHA DALTON: I think it would be a shame if it was lost completely, yes. I do believe that negotiations started on this several months ago, so I do think there has been time to find an alternative venue. Unfortunately it’s not happened. But I do know that there are lots of other firework events that happen across the city, and schools hold their own events, for example. I know Tesco Hampton did one a few years ago. So I know there are other organised events that people will be able to attend, and hopefully they will see them boosted this year themselves.
ANDY BURROWS: The other concern is that if there isn’t one big event in Peterborough, then lots of people might be encouraged to have fireworks at home, and that can be incredibly dangerous.
SAMANTHA DALTON: Absolutely. I would not want anyone risking themselves this year in terms of just fireworks and bonfires. My personal opinion is always go to a display if you can.Firework Fiesta isn’t happening in the city this year. Hopefully the people that are arranging that will be able to find a suitable venue next year. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: That was Councillor Samantha Dalton. who’s Cabinet Member for the Environment in Peterborough. I don’t think that row is going to go away any time soon over the future of Firework Fiesta in Peterborough.