No Highbury Fields fireworks despite council promise

A CONTROVERSIAL council promise to resurrect Islington’s annual public fireworks display after an 11-year absence on Friday has proved a damp squib.

Islington Labour have twice vowed to revive the borough’s traditional Bonfire Night event at Highbury Fields in the past 12 months – once last November when they were in opposition, and again in June having regained control of the council from the Liberal Democrats.

They claimed an all-ticket family event could be staged for as little as �50,000, saying they were “determined” to press ahead with the idea despite the long-anticipated Government spending cuts.

But this week Councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for planning and regeneration, said: “We weren’t expecting cuts that were so deep or so quick and disproportionate.” With costs spiralling towards the �80,000 mark due to police safety requirements, the council has poured cold water on the plans for the forseeable future.

Councillor Convery added: “We’d love to have a big communal fireworks display but I just thought no way can we spend that kind of money. It would be fun but we’re in real tough times.”

Islington is one of a handful of London Boroughs not hold its own council-run fireworks display. An annual Guy Fawkes’ Night celebration held on Highbury Fields since the 1980s was pulled in 1999 over crowd safety fears after 20,000 revellers turned up.

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Terry Stacy, who represents Highbury East ward, said: “Yet again we see Labour break another promise they made to the electorate. We told them the cost would be massive and safety concerns couldn’t be alleviated. This just underlines how Labour says one thing in opposition and how quickly they do something else when they are in power.”