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Greenwich ‘had two days to decide on Blackheath fireworks’

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Greenwich Council’s deputy leader Peter Brooks came out fighting when quizzed about Blackheath fireworks last night – claiming he was only given two days by Lewisham Council to make a decision on funding the event, and that the £37,000 saved by cutting cash from the display would save “a job and a bit”.

Lewisham is fundraising to make up a shortfall left by Greenwich pulling out of the annual event, which attracts 80,000 spectators from across London.

Cllr Brooks was criticised by Conservative councillor Alex Wilson, whose Blackheath Westcombe ward shares the display with Lewisham borough, for not informing local representatives of the council’s decision to pull out.

Lewisham organises the event, and had given Greenwich two days during August to agree to back the display, Cllr Brooks said.

“I was given two days in a recess to come up with a decision,” he told a full council meeting at Woolwich Town Hall. He apologised for not informing councillors, adding: “I did speak to some of the Labour group, but I couldn’t get through to everybody – even with mobile phones, many people would be away.”

“I could give 65 million reasons why we didn’t pay,” he continued, referring to government cuts in the council’s budget. “£37,000 is equivalent to a job and a bit.”

Cllr Wilson said Greenwich’s attitude to the fireworks, which take place on the borough boundary, “feels like a diner who walks away from a restaurant without paying for a meal”.

Above is the written element to Cllr Brooks’ reply. Unfortunately, Alex Wilson didn’t ask why, despite the “current financial climate”, the council felt the need to spend £30,000 on its lavish private do for the mayor in May – which equates to a job. It also does seem odd that Peter Brooks is complaining about only having two days to decide about an event that’s taken place annually for about the past 20 years, for which he roughly knew what the bill would be.

I’d love to know what Lewisham’s version of events is – even from that written response, it doesn’t look like relations are happy between the two boroughs. This doesn’t bode well as we enter a period when councils may have to start sharing services to save them from even worse cutbacks. It’s sad that one of SE London’s best-known events could well be a victim of what seems to be as much of a falling-out between two Labour councils, who you’d expect to be sticking together, as a need to save funds.

To donate to Lewisham’s Blackheath fireworks fund, visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/fireworks.
More on the Blackheath fireworks story.

Written by Darryl

28 October, 2010 at 11:55 am

11 Responses

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  1. Greenwich Council didn’t get enough warning that November 5th would be happening this year?

    Good grief.

    Steve

    28 October, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  2. “We only had two days to decide” about an event they have been running and funding every year for decades is pure bullshit on Greenwich Council’s part. No way did it just not occur to them.

    Matt DC

    28 October, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  3. Can we have a set of photos of our esteemed representatives?

    Then we can have a competition with a prize for the person who spots the most Greenwich councillors at the fireworks.

    Steve

    28 October, 2010 at 1:15 pm

  4. [...] certainly no enthusiasm for the display from Greenwich Council’s leadership – before answering questions on it at the last council meeting, deputy leader Peter Brooks grumbled that it was “very difficult to get to Blackheath from my [...]

  5. [...] 100,000 people to the area. We also know that its councillors, both Labour and Conservative, failed to question these priorities when they had the chance last [...]

  6. [...] fireworks display came in a council scrutiny meeting earlier this month. You’ll recall deputy leader Peter Brooks claiming this was down to “strict control over all expenditure”, implying [...]

  7. [...] budget cut when he said there were “65 million reasons” not to spend £37,000 on the Blackheath fireworks ceremony it jointly held with Lewisham Council. He said there was “strict control over all [...]

  8. [...] cash towards a private mayoral booze-up and the “Greenwich Festivals” programme, while pleading poverty at the same [...]

  9. […] out of funding the annual fireworks display on Blackheath, pleading poverty. The £37,000 cost was, according to deputy leader Peter Brooks, equivalent to one mayoral piss-up at the Naval College full-time […]

  10. […] in 2010, deputy leader Peter Brooks claimed Greenwich Council couldn’t afford it, a whopper so big it could be seen from […]


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