Greenwich Council ups 2017 Blackheath fireworks funding to £15,000 ‘to keep A2 open’

2016 Blackheath fireworks
The new Blackheath fireworks funding is to help keep the A2 open during the display (Clogsilk via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Two weeks after this website revealed Greenwich Council was refusing to increase its funding for Blackheath fireworks, it has now decided to give an extra £5,000 to the annual event, which takes place this year on Saturday 4 November.

The costs of the event, which takes place on the border between Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs, used to be equally shared between the two boroughs. But Greenwich pulled out in 2010, claiming it could no longer afford to pay its £37,000 share of the costs, leaving Lewisham in the lurch.

Greenwich partially-reversed its stance in 2015, and has paid £10,000 each year to be classed as a “sponsor” of the display – and emails released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed it had declined a request from Lewisham to increase its funding. Greenwich did not respond when asked for comment about the story.

Now the council has upped its contribution to £15,000 “to support business engagement and new requirements for keeping the A2 open” during the event.

A decision paper sent to councillors on Tuesday says:

“Lewisham Council has contacted officers at the Royal Borough of Greenwich to explain that costs have risen this year due to requirements to keep the A2 open during the event. This has necessitated a new traffic management plan.

“Lewisham Council has had to hire additional equipment including dot matrix signage, pedestrian barriers and Heras fencing. The council has also been required to expand security and stewarding provision. It is anticipated that implementing the new traffic management plan will cost an additional £5,000.

“As the A2 bisects Blackheath and is the boundary between both boroughs it is in the interests of Greenwich to ensure that the plan is implemented effectively and properly resourced.

“An approach has been received from an officer in Lewisham Council to enquire about the possibility of Royal Borough of Greenwich assisting with overall costs and paying for these additional, unexpected costs that have a direct impact on Greenwich and its residents.”

While the extra funding will help ease cross-border relations, Greenwich’s contribution to the event, which attracts 100,000 people, will remain less than a third of Lewisham’s.

The remaining funds come from sponsorship, bar takings and public donations, but budget pressures at Lewisham have continued to threaten the future of the £96,000 display, which has been reduced in length to save money.

To donate money to Blackheath fireworks, visit the Lewisham Council website.

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