Will Dunstable ever host a Fireworks Night again? Possibly not.
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Dunstable Fireworks night is an annual event held by Dunstable Town Council and enjoyed by thousands of members of the public. It is an explosive event that brings funfair rides, food stalls and a choreographed firework display to Creasey Park. Unfortunately, all that could be about to go up in smoke.
Town council officers presented a report to the 1st of March Community Services Committee meeting, stating that Creasey Park is no longer a viable venue to hold the event. This is due to construction in the park of a new artificial turf pitch which was built by Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC).
Unfortunately for the up to 15,000 attendees of the annual firework display, the New 4G pitch has been constructed directly where the fireworks were previously set up. If the fireworks were to go ahead there would be a substantial reduction in space for the spectators, meaning Creasey Park would no longer be able to accommodate the massive crowd who have previously attended. The Dunstable Town Council Annual Report 2020 estimated the number of events program visits for 2018/2019 was 33,630 attendees. This suggests that the visitors of Dunstable’s fireworks night constitute approximately 44% of all the events program annual turnout. This begs the question of whether or not the council will ever be able to meet the same sort of overall turn out if the event is permanently dropped.
The capacity issue is not the only problem. The newly built 4G pitch would be vulnerable to damage from firework fallout. CBC who built the pitch in order to replace the 2G pitch due to be demolished in order to build their somewhat controversial Health Hub, seem to have placed the burden of covering the pitch in order to protect it from the annual display on Dunstable Town Council though this is unconfirmed. DTC have obtained quotes to cover the pitch which range between £40,000 to £60,000. Town Council Officers have worked hard to try to find an alternative venue for the display; however, none of the other parks in the Dunstable area are suitable.
Suggestions have been made to use the £18,000 budget to create a new winter lighting event in Grove house gardens, increasing footfall in the town centre and complementing the Christmas lighting scheme. Other suggestions were to combine our efforts with a neighbouring town such as Houghton Regis, who also hold an annual firework display, but this idea seems to have little support.
For me, this issue is indicative of a greater problem. The current insistence of CBC to build on any green space left in the town has spread to our parks. Certainly, it made sense to build their new ATP in Creasey Park because that is the park’s primary purpose; but it came at a cost and with a cost. A cost that is now due to affect 15,000 people, and a cost to use it. What was open green space is now a turf you have to pay a premium for. What comes next? An Entertainment venue in Grove House gardens? Perhaps a crematorium in Priory Gardens or “Luton Road Recreational facility” in place of the park? Who knows?
The issue of Creasey park is going to be discussed at future Community Services Committee meetings. Councillors and officers will continue to look for alternative spaces to hold the Fireworks event, but public turnout at these meetings can be nil. Our officers work amazingly hard to achieve things behind the scenes and credit is not always given where it is due. On this instance, I fear that, without help from residents, the public at large will most likely not see a Dunstable firework display again.