Blackheath Fireworks 2010: Lewisham prevents a tragedy of the commons

As a Greenwich native, it pains us to say this, but Greenwich Council shafted Lewisham Council over Bonfire Night, unilaterally withdrawing funding for the Blackheath fireworks and leaving Lewisham to fill the gap. In doing so, they literally became free-riders at the event. Greenwich residents still got their fireworks, Lewisham residents paid.

While the long-term prospects of the event must still be in doubt, given the extent of the cuts Lewisham and Greenwich have to make, it's great that this year's fireworks took place in front of record crowds. Here's the release - well done to all of the donors and sponsors and to the Council for their ingenuity:

Record number of people celebrate Blackheath fireworks

One hundred thousand people celebrated South London’s biggest and best public firework display on Saturday 6 November.

Blackheath fireworks have been a long standing highlight of Lewisham’s event calendar and this year was no exception. An estimated 100,000 people turned out to celebrate the spectacular event. From the crowd’s countdown through to the white-light finale, applause and sounds of appreciation were heard for miles around while the sky was filled with 20-minutes of light and colour.

It was thought at one point this year’s unexpected £36,000 shortfall in funding might put the display at risk but due to the huge generosity of hundreds of individuals, community groups and businesses, the display was able to go ahead. Lewisham Council launched an appeal for public donations on 14 September and, including the cash collected on Saturday night, it’s estimated that at least £25,000 has been raised. However, donations are still coming in from people all over London who enjoyed the display.

In particular, extremely generous donations were made over the past weeks by local organisations and businesses such as Glendale, L&Q, The Clarendon Hotel, and local community group, The Blackheath Society, as well as restaurants Chapters, Bella Vista and Everest Inn. The Council’s eBay auction raised a further £1,000.
Others members of the local community generously donated their time and skills. Local amateur photographer, James Davis, took the photos, and local professional film makers, Live Vision Studios, made a film of the event which can be seen on YouTube.

The display was also again this year generously backed by independent fund management company GLC Ltd, who have been involved with the Blackheath Fireworks display since 1994.

The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, said: “I think a combination of good weather conditions and huge community support for the fireworks resulted in the vast turnout this year. It was a fantastic event made all the more successful by the offers of support, donations and above all the generosity of spirit.”

Donations are still being accepted towards this year’s display: