Published: 06/10/2017 12:12 - Updated: 06/10/2017 12:14

Bonfire Night organisers facing extra celebration costs

Written byEmma Crichton

 

Bonfire Night celebrations face extra costs this year
 

 

Community-run bonfire and fireworks events may not go ahead this year due to new costs and council red tape.

Local volunteers who organise free events are now facing a £216 charge to apply for a licence to hold Guy Fawkes festivities - whether the licence is granted or not.

As well as the cost, organisers, often community councils, have to sift through 53-pages of paperwork, including an event description and application form from Highland Council.

In previous years fireworks displays did not require a public licence unless organisers charged an entry fee but changes agreed in February last year have now come into force, leaving the future of many events in doubt.

It was the first major review of public entertainment licences carried out by the council since 1996 and the licences committee agreed all fireworks and bonfire displays require a public entertainment licence as of January.

At the time a number of concerns were raised that the cost and lengthy application may make it impossible for some November 5 events to go ahead but councillors agreed organisers should have to follow the necessary health and safety procedures.

A council spokeswoman said: "Public firework displays were always included in the activities requiring a public entertainment licence but, until January this year, a licence was required for these only if the public were to be admitted on payment of money or money’s worth.

"Free-to-enter public firework displays were added from January this year on grounds of public safety, the committee having taken the view that the safety of members of the public at free displays was as important as the safety of members of the public at displays which have an entry charge."

A temporary six-week public entertainment licence for free firework displays, classed as non commercial events, will cost £216 each but a permanent licence, lasting three years, will cost £432.

During a public consultation held in 2015, 52 per cent of people agreed firework displays should be licensed, 39 per cent did not and nine per cent said they did not know.

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