Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bonfires banned in Guy Fawkes' home town

A bonfire celebration in York, the home town of Guy Fawkes, has been banned on health and safety grounds, the local council has said. Thousands were due to attend the spectacle on the 402nd anniversary of Fawkes' failed plot to blow up parliament.

But York City Football Club was told their ground was too small to ensure spectator safety, a decision which left the head of the cathedral city's tourist board "lost for words."

York Council's head of licensing, Dick Haswell, declined to be interviewed on Tuesday. But in an emailed statement he defended the decision, saying it was made on health and safety grounds.

"Because the football club was proposing to hold a firework display in a certified sports ground, legally, they had to apply to York's Safety at Sports Advisory Group for a Special Safety Certificate," he said. "Unfortunately the ground was not large enough to provide the necessary distance between the area where fireworks could fall and spectators."

The chief executive of York Tourism Board, Gillian Crudass, said she was "lost for words" at the council's decision. We are very much disappointed because it is a British tradition," she said. "It attracts a lot of interest not just from local people, but also from visitors from all around the country who come for a short break – as well as international interest."

A spokesman for the football club declined to comment.

Guy Fawkes was born in April 1570 in Stonegate, York and was in charge of executing the Roman Catholic plot to blow up parliament and the protestant King James 1 during the state opening of parliament on November 5, 1605.

The plot was uncovered at the last minute and Fawkes was caught and executed early in 1606.

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