Peterlee fireworks display could be saved thanks to concerned fire chief

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AN annual fireworks display could be saved after a senior fire officer raised concerns about safety if it does not go ahead.

Peterlee Town Council pulled the plug on its November 5’s Bonfire Night event earlier in the year over health and safety and congestion fears.

But Tom Simms, the new County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue district manager for Easington, said the move “raises major concerns for me”.

He has now written to council chiefs urging them to reconsider.

It comes as Free and Independent Representation (FAIR) Party councillors Andrew Watson and Derrick Sillito handed a letter to Mayor of Peterlee, Councillor Don Milsom, calling for an extra-ordinary meeting in a bid to get the decision overturned.

Mr Simms said the brigade’s message is for people to attend an organised, structured event as it is safer.

But he added: “From what I understand if this event does not go ahead there will be several thousand people that will potentially have their own fireworks displays and bonfires that will not only significantly increase the risk of people being injured by fireworks, but will also put extra pressure on our fire crews at an already extremely busy time for us.”

He said: “I have already started making some links with different partners, though it’s early days. I think it’s do-able, personally, if we all get together and work as a team.” Mr Simms said initiatives to ensure a smooth event, should it go ahead, could include asking members of the public to leave their car at home and walk to the event, or to look at extra car parking spaces.

Councillors were due to discuss the display at a Labour group meeting on Thursday, ahead of a meeting of the full town council on Monday.

Mayor Milsom declined to comment before Monday’s meeting takes place. A Facebook campaign to save the display attracted more than 300 likes.