Safety fears over plans to switch annual Flintshire bonfire site

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A CHILD could be killed if a popular bonfire display at Deeside Leisure Centre is moved to Wepre Park.

That is the stark warning from a councillor who is fighting plans to move the event because of fears over traffic queues and parking.

The event which has been held at Deeside Leisure Centre for 42 years and which attracts thousands of people, cannot be held there this year because of work to replace five-a-side football pitches.

But Connah’s Quay councillor Bernie Attridge said the extra traffic generated at Wepre Park would pose a huge safety risk to visitors.

During a heated debate at County Hall, he said: “The leisure centre is at a standstill on bonfire night but people can park at John Summers High School or at B&Q and Asda.

“But if it went to Wepre Park there is simply nowhere to park. The homework hasn’t been done.”

He added: "At Wepre Park there is a health and safety issue. A child could easily run out between cars and be killed.”

But Connah’s Quay councillor Brian Dunn said it is time that they cut their losses and agreed on Wepre Park.

“We couldn’t have a bonfire but we could definitely have a firework display,” he said. “It’s that or nothing at all. I think Wepre Park is a good site.”

Fellow councillor Aaron Shotton is hoping construction work is completed before the big night and is urging leisure centre bosses to re-think their decision on the venue.

“It is a safe and organised event which avoids back garden bonfires and all of the risks associated with that,” he said.

“The construction work is enclosed in a compound and does not encroach on the land where the bonfire will take place.

“We were never given a valid reason why we couldn’t have it at the leisure centre.”

But leisure centre manager Mike Welsh said it would be impossible to hold the event there because of the new flammable 3G pitches.

He told the meeting: “It was with great sadness that I had to turn down the bonfire request this year.

“The new pitches are easily susceptible to cigarette burns and if a firework landed on them it could cause serious damage.”

His comments prompted concern over the future of the firework display but Mr Welsh said it would be reviewed again in 2011 following a health and safety assessment.

Councillors resolved to liaise with the fire service to ensure the 2010 display will continue in Deeside.

See full story in the Leader

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