At the discretion of the Chair, a period of up to 15 minutes may be allocated at each ordinary meeting for members of the public to make representations or to ask questions on matters within the terms of reference of the Committee. No member of the public shall speak for more than five minutes in the Open Forum, except by permission of the Chair.
Please note: Members of the public are asked to submit a video of their question or statement to email@example.com by 4 p.m. on Friday 4th March 2022.
Members of the public were invited to submit a question / statement in advance of the meeting.
Two submissions were received. The first submission from the Clean Air Alliance was read out to the committee as follows:
‘I represent the Clean Air Alliance in asking that there be an alternative ‘festival’ on 5th November/ Bonfire Night, since the format we’ve grown up with leaves us with polluted air. Whilst appreciating that risk assessments are in place, there is no consideration of the longer-term health of attendees, including Council staff, or local residents. The community bonfires in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to Covid, but we understand that air quality had not been considered. Covid has caused a break in the tradition for many people and 2022 would be a good time to review the whole issue.
The results of research carried out by the University of Leeds, which makes sombre reading, indicating that dioxins may stay in the air for up to 2 weeks. We know that respiratory clinicians in Leeds hospitals are concerned about the damage which smoke and particulates from bonfires cause to health, particularly with the cumulative impact of covid.
Whilst acknowledging that the Council ‘puts on a good show’, we know that Councillors regularly receive complaints from constituents forced to stay at home on that night, because of the noise and smoke of fireworks, inconsiderate parking, breathing difficulties and large crowds, whilst many people affected do not complain. The events exclude sections of the community, - they are a no-go area for many with mobility issues, and for families with young children due to tightly packed crowds and the difficulty children have seeing the displays.
Also of concern is the state of the parks afterwards where the bonfires have been held. The litter is picked up by Council staff and volunteers and whilst the grass does grow again, it’s an effort and a Council cost which needn’t happen.
Since signing up to Climate Emergency measures, many Councils are now looking at alternatives to bonfires and fireworks, e.g. Ashbourne, Bideford, Edinburgh, London, Newcastle, Norwich - all of which have had laser light shows, plus London and Edinburgh using drones too with spectacular success.
Perhaps 5th November/Bonfire Night could be combined with the hugely successful Light Night, with imaginative ‘bonfire’ and ‘fireworks’ displays. Gradually, more districts could be included, and use iconic buildings as the backdrop, such as Kirkstall Abbey, Temple Newsam, Guiseley/Yeadon/Morley/Wetherby Town Halls, Hunslet Library, Royal Armouries. Since the displays would be spread over a whole evening, not just whilst the fire burns or the fireworks are let off, people would be spread out too, creating more revenue-generating possibilities for the Council from food, drinks and other vendors.
It's likely that many residents who have bought fireworks and watched bonfires over the years could not explain the origin of this British custom, and I guess for the remainder, the origins are of no significance anymore.
We ask for your assurance that this event be brought up-to-date for the environment and to be inclusive for all residents.’
The second submission was received from Climate Action Leeds, a video that provided an update on the Leeds Doughnut project and invited Members to the project launch event on 28th April 2022.