It’s Blackheath fireworks tonight – fingers crossed it doesn’t rain on one of south-east London’s best nights out. As hundreds of people stream up my road, in the London Borough of Greenwich, to watch the event, probably from vantage points in the London Borough of Greenwich, what is the London Borough of Greenwich doing to help out this year as our neighbours in Lewisham raise funds to keep the event going?
Not a lot. There’s a page on Greenwich’s website which simply suggests people look at Lewisham’s site (which is probably there to avoid having an embarrassing “page does not exist” result), and despite Lewisham making a public appeal for funds, there’s been no mention at all of the event in Greenwich’s propaganda weekly, Greenwich Time, despite it being within earshot of tens of thousands of local homes.
Energetic SE10-based tweeter Lara Ruffle even asked if Greenwich would share Lewisham’s appeal with its 3,242 followers…
…to no response.
Here’s the official line from culture cabinet member John Fahy. I’m not sure that final sentence actually make sense – but none of the councillors stuck around to ask, because they were more interested in cutting the meeting short for wine and sausage rolls at a function over the road.
Indeed, Lewisham – there be dragons over there! Here’s a map of where to go tonight, with the borough boundary scrawled on top. As you can see, the event clearly has nothing to do with the borough of Greenwich whatsoever. Apart from the firework safety zone, spectator areas, road closures, five nearby stations…
So, what has Greenwich actually done with the £36,000 it would have spent on the fireworks this year? Well, we know that last year, it pulled out of Blackheath at short notice after having spent £29,000 on a private Royal Naval College ceremony to inaugurate then-mayor Barbara Barwick. After that, the fireworks contribution was permanently cut from the council’s budget.
(There are other things you could point to, like the lavishly-funded Greenwich Festivals, but the fireworks and mayor’s party came out of the same pot of cash.)
This year, the council still went ahead with a naval college ceremony to inaugurate current mayor Jim Gillman. As I understand it, from various sources, this was knocked down to £10,000 after some frantic negotiations with the Greenwich Foundation, which runs the old college campus. It agreed to allow the council to use the painted hall for free, for one year only. So if Greenwich returns next May, it’ll have to pay full whack again.
Still, if Greenwich runs out of cash for its mayoral booze-up, perhaps it could ask the public to donate.
I’m sure we’d be only too happy to put our hands in our pockets once again to help our councillors enjoy themselves. If they want any advice on how to run a successful fund-raising campaign – they could always ask Lewisham Council…
Donate £3 to Blackheath fireworks by texting “Fireworks” to 70007 (70p of this goes to Breast Cancer Care) or give any sum you like by visiting www.lewisham.gov.uk/fireworks. And if you look north, you’ll also see Tower Hamlets’ display at Millwall Park.
Once again Greenwich Council ignores its own people, as it has done with so many events in the past year or so. We all know that there have to be cut backs, but cutting back on the right things are key.
Thanks Darryl! Fame at last! :-).
The Greenwich Phantom (http://www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2011/11/fireworks-2011) and Greenwich.co.uk (http://www.greenwich.co.uk/whats-on/06433-blackheath-fireworks-2011) also wrote articles about the fireworks. It is good to know that the bloggers of Greenwich support the fireworks even if the council can’t be bothered!
Hooray for my former council Lewisham!
Great firework display as usual. Before anybody asks!I did make a contribution. Pity about the chaotic transport arrangements getting out of Blackheath. There is a strong argument for holding a firework display in Greenwich. would this be supported.
That’s an interesting comment coming from a councillor who’s part of the administration that has decided not to continue part-funding the existing Blackheath display. Can you tell us what the strong argument for holding a display in Greenwich is (and presumably for funding it), and how this differs from the argument in favour of helping to fund the Blackheath fireworks?
As for transport, it didn’t look too chaotic to me as I walked back – traffic was backed up solidly, but that’s inevitable if people choose to drive and then all want to leave at once.
There is a strong argument for holding a firework display in Greenwich. would this be supported.
It was in Greenwich. The fireworks were set off on the north side of the A2.
I don’t recall the transport arrangements being any different from when Greenwich co-funded it.
[…] wind that was blowing across the heath last night. But it highlights the stupidity of Greenwich refusing to fund, and barely acknowledging, a major fireworks display which ended up taking place within its borders – yet still doling […]
“There is a strong argument for holding a firework display in Greenwich. would this be supported.”
Why bother going to the expense and effort of duplicating the Blackheath fireworks with a separate event? How would that deliver a better or more cost effective result? Is this more about Greenwich/Lewisham council rivalry?
That must be someone pretending to be John Fahy. Bearing in mind Greenwich council’s stance on Blackheath fireworks, which, as Darryl points out, took place in Greenwich, the real councillor would surely not make such a fatuous and idiotic statement. Would he? Would he really?
A crude impersonation then, particularly if you look at the horrible punctuation and grammar. Funny!
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