Fireball ceremony is saved

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Stonehaven will welcome 2012 in with a bang this year, thanks to support from the community following a media campaign for stewards and first aiders for the famous fireballs ceremony.

Following revelations that the New Year’s eve ceremony was in jeopardy a number of first aiders have stepped forward, however more are still required. Due to regulations governing events, the fireball ceremony requires 30 stewards and a first aid team of around 12 qualified first aiders. Whilst many people have already come forward to help, more are still needed so if you can help call Susan Leiper on 07800774965 or visit www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk.

The world-famous ceremony came very close to not happening this year, and this has brought to light the issues faced by the Fireballs committee, who are a group of volunteers who work hard every year arranging the spectacular New Year’s event.

Chairman of Stonehaven tourism group, Frank Budd, wrote to the area manager William Munro to ask Aberdeenshire Council for help in saving the event. In his letter he said: “The Fireballs Ceremony is probably the most iconic event in Stonehaven, which publicises the town all over the country, and indeed the world. It is an event which is remarkable for its safety record and is an incredible tribute to those volunteers who have nurtured it and sustained from the time it had almost died to today’s event which is recognised as an International event by the Media.” He describes the threat to the fireballs as “bureaucratic attacks” on the ceremony. In his letter he also outlines a number of issues relating to the fireballs which he wishes the lacal authroity to adress. He finishes his letter by asking that the local authority do all it can to help save the fireballs ceremony. You can see Frank Budd’s full letter on page 12.

In his reply to the letter, William Munro said: “Aberdeenshire Council is a strong supporter of the Stonehaven Fireballs and recognises the very important role it has both in the traditions of the town, and also as a unique and popular event drawing global media interest and international visitors. We at Aberdeenshire Council along with emergency services such as the Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the Emergency Planning Unit work very closely with the organisers to ensure that the event runs smoothly and that the safety of participants and the public is placed high on the agenda. As the fireworks have been introduced, more spectators are being drawn to the harbour and the organisers have arranged for the MRI to be there as a precaution. I am not aware that there has been any request for divers to be deployed in the harbour. The Council contributes to the event by opening up the public toilets, manning them and keeping them clean. The council also has an important part to play in cleaning up the town after the event, an activity which the organisers are responsible for, but the council does to support the event.

“The Council has not asked for a £400 payment for cleaning up nor has it asked the organisers to clean the toilets. The local authority has a responsibility to issue a public entertainment licence and has to consult police, ambulance service and others and to take into account their views. The event is in the best hands as a group of volunteers with advice and support from public agencies and we will ensure that the requirements are relevant, appropriate and proportionate to the risks and taking into account legislation within which the Fireballs has to be organised. Aberdeenshire Council is passionate about the Fireballs and are determined that it should continue for as long as swingers want to swing, in a safe manner and in conformity with national legislation.”