Seaham mayor explains why it is 'town only' attendance at this year’s fireworks display

Seaham Mayor Sue Morrison has apologised for any upset caused by restricting this year’s fireworks display to a town residents’ only event, but cited congestion in previous years and dangers to safety as the reasons behind the decision.

The popular free event takes place this Saturday, November 5, and would normally attract people from across the region,

Following the restrictions, a number of readers have contacted the Echo to express their anger and disappointment at not being able to attend the popular event after the display was made accessible only to people who obtain a wristband after providing documentation to prove they are paying their Council Tax to Seaham Town Council or a Seaham addressed utility bill.

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The influx of large numbers of people in previous years has caused congestion on A19 and surrounding roads and within the town itself, and Cllr Morrison said they had been left with little choice but to impose the restrictions after a safety directive from Durham County Council.

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She said: “First of all I would like to apologise for any upset the introduction of wrist bands have caused. These, along with the residents only classification message, were stipulated by the Durham County Councils Safety Advisory Group in order to try and reduce the congestion caused at last years event.

"This is all with the good intention of trying to keep people safe.

"Nobody wants the congestion that we all saw last year, so it is worth giving these things a try even though we are not used to them after having many decades of free excellent events in Seaham.

The Seaham fireworks display in 2019. Picture: TOM BANKS

"However, the message for this one event this year is really if you have a council more local to you or a charity or sports club that is putting a fireworks event on, please try and support these instead of contributing to the congestion on the A19 and around Seaham.

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"It maybe nice for you and your family to leave the car at home for one night and walk to another event closer to home rather than getting stuck in traffic for hours.”

The Town Council said they did explore other avenues to try and ensure the display was open to all.

Seaham's mayor, Cllr Sue Morrison, has said the town was directed to restrict access to the town's firework display over safety concerns.
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Cllr Morrison added: “Seaham Town Council certainly tried many other things to avoid the need of the two restricted areas, such as moving the event from Friday to the Saturday when many more events are on, commissioning extra stewards and car parks at the car boot coast field and spectrum business park, along with a large amount of extra signage and no parking cones.

“However the Safety Advisory Group still insisted on the residents only message and the two restricted areas.”

Durham County Council were also contacted about the decision.

Joanne Waller, the Council’s head of community protection, said “The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) is a multi-agency partnership between the council, police, fire and ambulance services. The SAG partnership seeks to work with event organisers to ensure events are organised and managed as safely as possible for all concerned.

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“In this case, concerns were expressed by the emergency services over traffic build-up at last year’s event. The event organisers were advised of potential implications for the safety of road users and the need to ensure that emergency vehicles have ready access around the area.

“Advice was given to the town council by the SAG in the interests of public safety and, as the event organiser, it has considered this advice and taken appropriate steps to address these risks as part of its event safety plan.”

Local residents eligible to attend the display have been advised to make use of the free park and walk schemes from the “car boot field North of the Town and Spectrum Park to the South, which will be open from midday.

Anyone unsure as to whether they are paying their Council Tax to Seaham Town Council can check on the Durham County Council website.