Islington Council slammed for reneging on pledge to bring back firework display in Highbury Fields

Londoners watch fireworks display organised by local Residents Association, on 30 October 2011. Arun

Londoners watch fireworks display organised by local Residents Association, on 30 October 2011. Arundel Square, Islington, London, England, UK. - Credit: Archant

The town hall has been accused of breaking promises after its pledge to bring fireworks back to Islington spluttered and died.

Before they were elected in 2010, Islington Labour lit the blue touch paper on a controversial plan to resurrect the annual public display at Highbury Fields after an 11-year absence.

The traditional bonfire night event was axed in 1999 over crowd safety fears after 20,000 revellers turned up – but Labour Cllr Paul Convery said it if Labour made it to power the council would bring the event back.

Now with elections looming in May, Tuesday was the last Guy Fawkes night for it to make good the pledge during its time in office.

Independent Cllr Greg Foxsmith said: “I find it extremely disappointing when elected officials don’t keep their promises.

“I made that comment about deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and I feel the same way about our politicians here in Islington.

“Other boroughs have managed it and I am really grateful fireworks have returned to Alexandra Palace in Haringey.

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“There seem to be displays all over the place, only in Islington do we seem to be bereft of any kind of display, and councillors back track on their pledges.”

Highbury East Cllr Terry Stacy, the leader of the council when the display was first pulled, said: “There is an air of cynicism about this.

“We cancelled it because of safety concerns by the police and fire brigade. It had become unmanageable. It was just too big. Highbury Fields was shoulder to shoulder.

“Labour pledged they would bring it back and like many pledges they made in opposition they have never followed through.

“You won’t hear me say this about many promises they have broken, but as a Highbury resident I am delighted they haven’t brought the display back.”

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s community safety boss, said: “I originally said this over four years ago and I couldn’t predict at that time the biggest single round of cuts in living memory.

“To put on a display like this is expensive. To do it safely it costs around £100,000 and we do not have that kind of money at the moment. We are facing an avalanche of cuts and we can’t justify it.

“I would love to see them reinstated at Highbury Fields and when things are looking up I will be pushing for just that.”