Discussion Forum

Bonfire Night Event

Posted by David Nendick
Sunday, November 5, 2006

What a depressing let-down last night was for my family. Mind you, at least we all awoke safe and sound this morning (unlike some attendees). All evening we felt vulnerable in a nasty, dangerous environment.

My 5 year old had been looking forward to it for weeks. What I didn't expect to witness was youths pummelling each other at 7.30pm in front of the fairground rides. One was left in a very bad state, especially after additional part of a gang joined in - one even stamped on his face. Of course the cowardly feral scum just disappeared into the throng.

I'm no coward, I'm a fit 15 stone 40 year old, but there was little I could do.

All I could find were 2 young Community Police way of their depth. The recipient of the violence actually found his way to First Aid. I argued with a Transport Poilceman at the gate who told me he "had no jurisdiction inside". Gangs of youths were clearly drinking and I could see where it was all heading. We simply left the park at 8.10pm when the announcer was telling more violence had broken out in the central area. I told the Police, who had by now bothered to turn up, that they might be more use inside rather than hanging around at the gate - of course they didn't like that very much!

Even then by the canal we encountered more low-life, one deliberately blowing his dope into my son's face, another chanting "who are you" at the fireworks. Mind you, I think they were left in no uncertain terms that this was unacceptable - in fact my wife is scarier than me. No that we enjoy confrontation, but in the absence of any effective Policing, sometimes you have to stand up and be counted.

In summary, the organisers were way out of their depth. Policing was utterly inadequate. Gangs should not have been allowed to intimidate and ruin the evening. Clearly no proper alcohol searches were undertaken. God knows what else some were carrying.

Either get a proper Police presence, hire a reputable security firm or just forget the whole thing. We won't be back - ever.

From Mattie
Sunday, November 5, 2006

Local people give up their valuable time and work very hard to make the bonfire a success, and raise money for good causes. And I am hesitant to undermine this.

However, I think we have to face the fact that the HB bonfire has become a monster out of control. Where once it was a very special event that the town could rightly be proud of, I think it is now time to give it a rest.

It has become overly bright, garish and commercialised and how did a funfair and loud recorded music (not to everybody's taste) get included? Not to mention the damage to the park and football pitch.

The bonfire's heyday was when it was a much smaller event, a bonfire with proper wood (not straw and pallets), parkin and local community stalls. Because there wasn't tens of thousands of people, you still had a good chance of meeting your friends and enjoying the event with them.

The low light gave an intangible, special feeling in keeping with the season and the thoughts expressed by the Reverend in another thread.

These days it's far, far too crowded and more Blackpool than Hebden Bridge - in fact, not very Hebden at all.

From Andrew Hall
Sunday, November 5, 2006

I sympathise totally with the sentiments expressed here. The bonfire was once a fun event, for locals and a few visitors. But then it became 'Americanised' and by that I mean in each successive year it had to become bigger and 'better' than in previous years. Such a strategy works for a while, but eventually, as Mattie says, it becomes an uncontrolled monster.

Nobody can disparage the excellent work of the Round Table and all the other helpers at this event. It has raised thousands for charity. But there comes a time when one wonders whether it hasn't outlived its usefulness, and whether there may be better ways of raising money.

Mr Nendick has lucidly highlighted the problems of this year's bonfire. I have since heard much more from locals about the horrendous behaviour of, almostly exclusively, young drunken males at and around Calder Holmes.

I've raised the issue of the bonfire before in our illustrious local newspaper, only to be accused of being a spoilsport and disallowing the kiddies their once a year thrill. But that's not the case at all. Here at Eaves we had a spectacular bonfire, and the same can be said for most communities. Many pubs are having their own bonfire events. My experience of these events is they are far more friendly, less regimented, less commercial, and far, far more fun.

My greatest hope is that the Round Table are mature enough to admit that things have gone too far. I hope they have the intelligence and creativity to realise that there are more ways to raise money than events that are so out of control that they leave people hospitalised. Guys, it was great while it lasted, but it's time to call it a day!

From Lou
Sunday, November 5, 2006

I agree with the comments expressed previously in that I do believe the spirit of what was once a wonderful event has grown into quite a monster.

Whilst I did not attend the bonfire, we did walk from Mytholmroyd to an extremely busy Hebden Bridge to meet up with friends for a meal. We came out of the restaurant, after a lot of the spectators had left, to be met with horrendous litter on the street, and walked to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Mytholmroyd.

It took more than fifteen minutes to load the bus with several foul mouthed younsters amongst us. One young woman was still drinking from a pint glass! Instead of an orderly queue, people were pushing onto the bus from two directions, making things extremely difficult.

Hats off to the very patient bus driver who had to contend with all of this, and to the six Police and Community Police who boarded the bus or stood near to try to sort out the fray.

From Adam B
Monday, 6 November 2006

What a shame it has come to this. I've lived in Hebden Bridge for a year and last year worked in The Spar on November 5th so this was my first chance to watch the fireworks.

Having heard a lot about them I watched from about halfway up Birchcliffe Road 5 minutes walk from my house, as advised by a young lady who's lived here all her life.

I had a great time watching them with a small crowd of others, including young children and families. Some people had drinks and those who drank alcohol did so responsibly.

I did hear later on about a very large punch-up at the main display.

On the Sunday night I was invited to a small private bonfire party with some friends and some of their friends and neighbours. I noticed a few (but not many) other houses doing the same thing.

I have heard about other public displays nearby, including one at Cragg Vale or Heptonstall on the friday night which is supposed to be a small, enjoyable display.

The point I wish to make with my ramblings is that if you don't enjoy the main Hebden Bridge event (and it sounds as if there are good reasons) then it may be possible to vote with your feet and do something alternative such as:

  • Watch the display but watch from somewhere else where there may still be excellent views. You can go with family, friends or on your own and join a happy crowd (the true spirit of Hebden Bridge I suspect).
  • Find another local organised display somewhere and watch where there may be a nicer atmosphere particularly for young children.
  • Get together with some friends and neighbours to organise a few fireworks and maybe a small bonfire at a suitable site if one exists. Maybe have some warm drinks available and sparklers for the kids.

Just some of my own thoughts, if the locals of Hebden protest against the main event by staying away then this could send the right protest message and provide a safe, enjoyable, family-friendly alternative.


PS - A very minor moan for my part, it's a shame they started 10 minutes early and I missed the beginning!