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:


Headhunter said...

It was certainly very busy and I thought better than last year although quite a short show. Well done Lewisham!

darryl said...

That's one story us Greenwich residents won't be reading in Greenwich Time... well done Lewisham.

Shame Lewisham's PayPal page didn't include a message bit where I could apologise for my local council preferring to fund private mayoral piss-ups instead of big, public celebrations like this.

Guy Fawkes said...

All I will say is, shame on you Greenwich.

Brockley Nick said...

Gunpowder treason!

Anonymous said...

Actually Lewisham Council did have a p*** up. Their invite only VIP event still took place in Greenwich park with private and expensive caterers providing the food and drink. My cynical self wonders who paid the bill for that - was it the residents who donated to the firework fund ?

Lou Baker said...

The fireworks were great.

Well done Lewisham. I've donated - shame on those of you who haven't. You are, literally, stealing from
the less fortunate who will be hit when services are cut.

I would like to also commend the useless sods at South Eastern trains for another staggering display - in
their case of complete uselessness.

Despite knowing of the huge crowds, South Eastern again failed to lay on extra carriages - let alone extra trains.

One particularly useless railway dweeb was yelling at cattle-trucked passengers to 'move down the train,
it's not difficult.' He was almost pushing everyone on - Japanese style because there was nowhere for anyone to
move to.

That combined with the DLR being part
suspended again for 'engineering works' and Blackheath was, again, made unnecessarily hard to get to.

So Lewisham - keep up the good work but TFL and South Eastern get your acts sorted out and put proper transport provision in place for next year's display.

Headhunter said...

Funny you should mention Japanese style railway officials, when I lived in Japan the rail companies would lay on extra/longer trains whenever there was an major festival or event on, they were very organised in this respect. There was a massive firework display down by the Osaka docks every summer with fireworks supplied by the PL Fireworks company. It was an absolutely awesome display and the transport firms would do their utmost to supply as many trains and buses as they could.

You never see this in the UK. For example every year when the London to Brighton bike ride takes place, which is hugely popular nowadays, instead of somehow trying to adapt services to take the enormous number of people from Brighton back to London, the rail companies actually set up an exclusion zone for approximately 10 miles round Brighton banning anyone with a bike from getting on a train at any station. Total and utter inflexibility.

Brockley Nick said...

re: Anon 16.59 - Lewisham Council tells press office tells me:

"The VIP event was a private party with private funding. I can assure you it was not funded in any way either by public donations or by Lewisham Council."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nick, but will the Press office reveal what private companies so generously funded the event- a rough guess puts the cost at about 20K at least? I think not.I'm not quite sure how I feel about public officials at a public event being wined and dined by private companies.Surely there can't be anything in it for them.....?

Brockley Nick said...

Are you from Greenwich Council?

Anonymous said...

So the VIP Lounge was in Greenwich....mmmm.


The reply from the Press Office could be seen as misleading, maybe it needs clarifying.

The centre of Lewisham was still extremely busy around 11pm. but with few places where people could spend their money?

Brockley Nick said...

Sorry, I don't understand your comment.

Anonymous said...

No I'm not from Greenwich council just a very cynical Lewisham resident. And I would like to see the Press office be more specific about who paid for what, who was on the guest list etc. If not perhaps I'll put in a Freedom of Inforamtion request as don't these sort of hospitality shindigs have to be declared?

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance this is the same VIP area that tickets were sold on EBAY for to raise money for the event?

Anonymous said...

True, there isn't much to do in Lewisham after 11 o'clock.

Not a hedgefunder said...

The event in the park happens every year... I know some people who help out at it. It's put on and paid for by hedgefunders who get to have a private party in the park in exchange for paying a massive sum toasted the fireworks I believe.

Hedgefunders are pretty low on the totem pole as far as I'm concerned but I'm grateful if they help out with the fireworks while they run the economy into the ground! No idea if people from the council get invited or what they schmooze about if so.

Still not a hedgefunder said...

Ps toasted should read towards. Bloody iPhone thinks you're more likely to write toasted.

Anonymous said...

Yes it's the same(only) VIP area that you could bid for on ebay to help contribute to the fireworks. Slight contradiction going on there. I look forward to further information from the Press office as to who these private individuals/companies were and how much each contributed. If there is nothing to hide then there is no reason not to give out that information.

Anonymous said...

According to 'Loz 'N' Belly.....

Their analysis of the market since March has suggested that equities would out-perform cash.

It has also suggested that any economic recovery would favour the so-called "risk" currencies such as the Brazilian real, Mexican peso and Aussie dollar (Vs Sterling).

Read more:

GLC has about $1bn assets under management.....GLC’s strategies proved to be robust during the credit crisis with a remarkable 25.7% return in 2008.....

Staden says that hedge fund investors used GLC as an ATM cash machine during this period as many other funds locked up investments.

The press report these boys paid for the fireworks and Greenwich & Lewisham would therefore pick up the bulk of the costs of the public attending.

Would I be right in thinking even if Lewisham pulled out the fireworks display would still have gone ahead but not been publicised?

Hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Blimey 28% of £1 billion is a mere £280,000,000 million.

Total cost of fireworks display £000,000,000.015m.

I can see the headline:

"Strapped for cash council passes round the begging bowl for hedgefunds, private party."

Cue Cllr. Bell?

Tamsin said...

@ Headhunter. Interesting about the non-flexibility of train companies. They were totally taken by surprise by the eclipse as well - but did at least take names on a waiting list for the sleeper train to Cornwall.

Did not think about extra trains, though. Unlike what I understand to have been the position last time round in the 1920s(?)

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