Cuts could lead to illegal bonfires
Council bosses have been criticised for proposing to cancel funding for a community bonfire having just backed a campaign to get people to go to organised firework events.
Last week, as reported in the Mercury, Leicester City Council endorsed a Safer Bonfire Night campaign to try to prevent illegal and unauthorised bonfires being lit up on parks.
The campaign, also backed by the police and fire service, urged people to attend organised displays.
However, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby then went on to reveal his intention to cease the £16,000 of council funding given to the Humberstone Park Community Bonfire.
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Sir Peter said the council would help volunteers apply for local community forum grants to stage the event if they wanted it to continue but critics say it is unlikely to continue.
Coun Paul Newcombe, a member of a council scrutiny commission which discussed the matter, said: "If there is no Humberstone Park Bonfire, illegal fires could escalate and that is what we want to avoid. There will be more anti-social behaviour.
"To have it delivered locally is just pie in the sky. It just won't happen."
Fellow commission member Coun Lucy Chaplin said cancelling the funding sent out the wrong message.
She said: "I think its deeply ironic we are talking about these kind of cuts at this time of year when we are trying to encourage people to enjoy bonfire night safely.
"I would like to know if we consulted the fire service when deciding this. It would be staggering if we didn't."
The fire service has confirmed it had not been consulted but said it would not necessarily expect to be.
Assistant chief fire officer Steve Lunn said: "As always, we would encourage everyone to attend an organised event as they are generally safer."
Phillip Watt, 42, from Uppingham Road, Leicester, has attended a number of the bonfire events at Humberstone Park.
He said: "I'm upset it probably won't happen.
"We're told to attend an organised event but the organised event gets cancelled."
Sir Peter said: "Council funding for the Humberstone Park Bonfire is an accident of history. Other parts of the city, like Braunstone, have a bonfire without council money.
"We'll make sure people are helped to apply for funds."