Loss of Sparks in the Park fireworks display described as “a blow to the prestige” of Norwich

Norwich South MP Simon Wright. Picture: Denise Bradley. Norwich South MP Simon Wright. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Saturday, January 19, 2013
12:00 PM

Following news that Sparks in the Park will not return this year, reporter David Freezer asks if the correct decision was made.

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Sparks In The Park 2009. Photo:Sonya Duncan.Sparks In The Park 2009. Photo:Sonya Duncan.

The decision to end Norwich’s annual fireworks display Sparks in the Park has been described as “a blow to the prestige of the city” by Norwich South MP Simon Wright.

As reported in yesterday’s Evening News, Norwich City Council has decided the annual show at Earlham Park is no longer financially viable.

That is despite attracting 16,000 people to last November’s event, as the city council believes it would have to increase ticket prices or run it at a loss.

Tickets - which had been frozen for the last three years - were priced in advance at £6 for adults, £3 for children and free for under-fours or, on the night £7.50 for adults, £4.50 for children and free for under-fours.

Green party city council leader Claire Stephenson. Photo: Bill Smith.Green party city council leader Claire Stephenson. Photo: Bill Smith.

It was decided increasing ticket prices would have made the event less accessible to people on lower incomes.

So instead the council have decided to move the show into the city centre for a new display, with 12 minutes of fireworks launched from Norwich Castle, which will be free.

The council is hoping the decision will make it easier for families to travel to and from the event, with more public transport and parking options.

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Wright said he was surprised by the decision, saying: “I’m always amazed by how many people are there so I was very surprised to hear the news and I’m sure many families will be massively disappointed in and around the city.

Sparks in the Park 2010, Norwich.Sparks in the Park 2010, Norwich.

“It is one of the highlights of the year for many people and to lose that is a very great shame and a blow to the prestige of the city.”

A poll about the city council’s decision to bring Sparks in the Park to an end on www.eveningnews24.co.uk has backed the plans, with 68pc of over 100 people backing the council’s decision and 32pc voting the council got it wrong.

Mr Wright added: “If it broke even on previous years then this does seem a rather warped logic and does seem a rather strange decision.

“I think part of the spectacle of the event is going to the park and knowing that it is going to be well organised and well attended, and in that sense nothing else compares.

“So we will have to wait and see if what is proposed for the city centre can compare to that.”

The council has confirmed the display from Norwich Castle will be held on Friday, November 8 and will be funded from existing budgets, along with sponsorship and income from the rental of Earlham Park to a commercial partner for a traditional bonfire night event on a separate date.

Green councillor Claire Stephenson, leader of the opposition at the city council, said: “If the council is struggling to make it pay, I don’t know how a private company which will have the additional costs of rent, could run it at a profit.

“Presumably that would mean ticket prices end up being higher than at the moment and it would end up being quite a different event - and there are already plenty of private displays.”

Miss Stephenson added: “It could be great to have a free show in the city centre but I do wonder how that is going to be paid for. If Earlham Park has been cancelled because it is too expensive, how is a free show going to cost less?”

- Businesses interested in renting Earlham Park should email procurement@norwich.gov.uk

- What do you think of the decision to end Sparks in the Park? Leave a comment below or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

30 comments

  • So an event is being cancelled rather than raising ticket prices...and all because the poor, won't be able to afford it. If they are poor they should be spending their money on far more important items in the first place than fireworks....just saying...

    Report this comment

    merrydancer

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • I had no idea Norwich had so many NIMBYs. Maybe I don't want it in MY back yard either. A firework display is nothing without a bonfire. Where do you propose the council places that at the Castle? People aren't going to flock to the city centre for 12 minutes of fireworks. I'm guessing they're going to be pretty late as well so the people who go will end up drinking and causing even more noise and destruction in the city which will cost even more to clean up after. GREAT PLAN!

    Report this comment

    Bellatrixa

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • The Lib Dem poodle has spoken.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • So an event is being cancelled rather than raising ticket prices...and all because the poor, won't be able to afford it. If they are poor they should be spending their money on far more important items in the first place than fireworks....just saying...

    Report this comment

    merrydancer

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • god this man reminds so much of alan from two and a half men on t.v in looks, and he is just as stupid! there are things going on he should be poking his nose into rather than sending money up in smoke.

    Report this comment

    trev

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • A blow to the prestige of the city? What IS Simon Wright talking about!!! It's an expensive night out which many families can not afford anyway. Getting on for £30 just to get in for 2 adults and 3 kids, then there are the food stalls and the fairground rides. It's hardly fair to expect the kids to stand quietly waiting for a few fireworks, when all around them are eating burgers or going on rides. We did it the old fashioned way with a few friends. A couple of boxes of fireworks and sparklers, our own bonfire in our garden, with home made hot dogs, jacket spuds etc. And all for under £30. Kids enjoyed it just as much! We don't need huge, expensive, public displays with entertainment and fairgrounds, and I think it is good of the council to provide a free display in the city centre for those who can't afford to attend these events. I am sure it will be much appreciated, although we and I am sure many others will continue to do our own home made version!

    Report this comment

    Carol Bolton

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • Does the Lord Mayor's Show make a profit?

    Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • What alternative cuts would Simon Wright make instead?Doesn't he realise it is his government's austerity policies toward local councils,particularly Labour councils,that is the cause of the problem in the first place?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Is 12 minutes really worth all the hassel of travelling to the new show? better to have axed it completely or found a private company to take it on and see if they could make a profit. How about the fair ground folk taking it on lock stock and barrel and the Council playing their part by waving or seriously reducing the hire cost of the park?

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Am surprised and very disappointed at Simon Wright's reaction. I live in the city centre of Norwich and I never knew this event ever took place. A very good decision by Norwich City Council to bring the whole show into the city centre. I can watch (and hear) the majority of the display from my bedroom window just like the Lord Mayor's firework display. Yeah. Nice one. oooooooooooh aaaaaaaaaah

    Report this comment

    woodgreener

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • I agree with the Council. Simon Wright is wrong - I wonder if he paid for his tickets last year? A display off the Castle could be far more exciting and prestigious than Earlham Park and include far more of Norwich citizens as well as being good for city centre businesses. The Mayor's 3D sound and light projections on the Castle in the summer were fantastic - so good I saw them twice!

    Report this comment

    Rich Hartt

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • It's apparently "a blow" not to be able to burn money. That hasn't stopped this or previous governments. No hum.

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • I would also like to add my comment to Mr Simon Wright on his point " I am sure that there are many families in around the city who will be disappointed" ...there will be even more families that live in and around that area who will be very happy that its finishing for good.

    Report this comment

    Sidney

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • A waste of taxpayers money especially when we are told "essential services" will have to be cut

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Didn't the council cancel at least one of the city centre events because of health and safety concerns from falling fireworks? Hope they sort that out before they buy any fireworks. Does not seem to bother London, etc though.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • every man and his dog are doing private displays now a bit like carboot sales one on every corner.

    Report this comment

    david106

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • returning to this story I just wondered if this is turning into a free event why it can't actually take place on the 5th November as this is the day we are suppose to remember Mr Guy Fawkes failed attempt at blowing up Parliament. It's now 'Remember, remember October thro to December' for fireworks these days.

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • I would be pleased to not have the choice of slipping about in a muddy field or missing the fireworks! It is normally wet weather around the time of the Earlham Park display so it would be better to bring the event to the top of Norwich Castle where, in the event of rain, we would be able to watch it from buildings like the Forum (which has a translucent roof). There could be collecting buckets for people to collect money for the costs of the event - these may raise more money in the long run as more people will be able to contribute - even if it is less than the £5-£7.50 quoted.

    Report this comment

    Lynda Edwards

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • And why are we actually celebrating a terrorist attack for in these troubled times?

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • So awful little Wrighty sees a chance of scoring some cheap political points, then again that is how he got elected in the first place so why ditch a winning formula. I'm sure this is just leading up to the big story next week - Simon and Chloe open the Norwich fireworks bank - so people who have fallen on hard times can have fireworks too.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • Good idea to use the money to clear the side roads and paths in the winter!!!!

    Report this comment

    foxey

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • 16000 people last year and say an average ticket price of £4.50 ( one adult , one child ) , generates an income of 72K ( this excludes any licences for food , fun fairs etc ) . The council has no rent to pay so if it cant manage on that basis then there must be something seriously out of kilter . It would be interesting to see how this was costed then perhaps start negotiating with all those ' services ' that need to be involved such as Fire Police and H&S etc etc etc !

    Report this comment

    SHOOK

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Is it austerity what dunnit? Austerity, aka deficit reduction, is in truth deliberately misleading propaganda. David Cameron said on 10th October 2012 - "Here’s the truth: the damage was worse than we thought, and it’s taking longer than we hoped. The world economy – especially in the Eurozone – has been much weaker than expected in the past two years. When some of our big trading partners like Ireland, Spain and Italy are suffering, they buy less from us. That hurts our growth and makes it harder to pay off our debts." The REAL TRUTH - not one penny of the debt has been repaid, instead UK government debt continues to accumulate at the SAME rate as it would have done under a Labour government. "we have cut a quarter off the deficit in the past two years. 25 per cent. That’s helped to keep interest rates at record low levels... ...keeping mortgages low." In reality the reason why interest rates are low is because the Bank of England is supplying the banks with cheap money and then buying UK government debt from the banks, thus forcing market interest rates down. The ConDems actions in terms of cutting the deficit have had no impact on UK interest rates because the deficit has NOT been cut and in fact by the end of this financial year (2013), the deficit looks set to be higher than during their first year in office. Here's chancellor George Osbourne (2nd Dec 2012) with another call to arms in respect of ever greater economic austerity to cut the deficit and debt - “It’s clearly taking longer to deal with Britain’s debts; it’s clearly taking longer to recover from the financial crisis than anyone would have hoped. I’m very clear going forward we’ve got to deal with this deficit, it is going to take longer – that means more difficult decisions and it’s got to be done fairly, and that means yes, the richest need to bear their fair share – and they will.” WHAT? So-called economic austerity only exists as sound bites for the media to regurgitate, as the ConDem's spending continues to grow each year which means that the deficit persists virtually unchanged. So far the coalition government has done nothing that the Labour government would not have done in terms of the debt and deficits which remain on the SAME trajectory i.e. total debt is expected to hit £1.2 trillion by March 2013 which is set against the March 2010 Labour budget projected debt of £1.19 trillion, which illustrates the illusion that there is any difference between the political parties in terms of debt and deficits, as a consequence of Britain's debt based economy where the reality is that most of the cuts you see reported by the media just amounts to over-hyped tinkering at the edges. Simon Wright, go back to Westminster and deal with the real problems!

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • Am surprised and very disappointed at Simon Wright's reaction. I live in the city centre of Norwich and I never knew this event ever took place. A very good decision by Norwich City Council to bring the whole show into the city centre. I can watch (and hear) the majority of the display from my bedroom window just like the Lord Mayor's firework display. Yeah. Nice one. oooooooooooh aaaaaaaaaah

    Report this comment

    woodgreener

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

  • Lets be honest on this one... Does anyone think that this display has ever MADE money? Then you are not being realistic are you.....time all the traffic control measures, security fencing, fireworks so on and so on are paid ...then because of the time of year it takes place the park is usually left in a total mess with lots of repair work having to be carried out to the grass areas at a big cost too...then dream on.Lets forget it and move on to the free one in the city centre if it costs 8-10k for that it will still be a smaller loss than the "Sparks" one has to endure year in and year out.

    Report this comment

    Sidney

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Pleased to hear the annual firework display has been cancelled as every year year residents on Earlham Rd have to make sure the Council have put in measures to protect the grass verges from parking. If a private company does take the event over do they realize the nearest parking is at Thickthorn which will deter many people from attending the firework display. I think bringing the fireworks to the City centre will be good for business and the many people who enjoy the the green space Earlham Park has to offer will no longer have to put up with all the debris and often muddy conditions left by the event.

    Report this comment

    Peter Clarke

    Monday, January 21, 2013

  • Plenty of job losses in the city the past few weeks, and the boy wonder can only bemoan the loss of fireworks.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Typical Lib dem, Moaning about froth being lost to us all and suggesting a more expensive solution. A free display in the City Centre is fine with me, whatever length. Those who want a longer display should consider putting their money on the table and treat us all.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Well said PW It,s those nasty Tories again and the Libs.and the Greens and the Kip.s Never Labour who could not run their own bath without making a deficit with the finances.Roll on their Mardi Gras in Chapelfield.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • Lets be honest on this one... Does anyone think that this display has ever MADE money? Then you are not being realistic are you.....time all the traffic control measures, security fencing, fireworks so on and so on are paid ...then because of the time of year it takes place the park is usually left in a total mess with lots of repair work having to be carried out to the grass areas at a big cost too...then dream on.Lets forget it and move on to the free one in the city centre if it costs 8-10k for that it will still be a smaller loss than the "Sparks" one has to endure year in and year out.

    Report this comment

    Sidney

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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