Castle Hill firework fury

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RESIDENTS and visitors have been banned from watching Lancaster’s annual fireworks display from Castle Hill - sparking anger from tourism chiefs and traders.

Lancaster City Council has decided not to allow people into the Castle and Priory area on November 6, citing negative feedback from visitors last year and potential safety issues.

But it admits there have been no recorded incidents or injuries in recent years at the event, which attracts around 8,000 people.

Retailers have called the decision a “disappointment” claiming the move will hit trade and the unique atmosphere the event creates in the city centre.

It is the first time in the 18 years the display has been running that Castle Hill will not be the main viewing arena.

Ryelands Park, along with Williamson Park and Lancaster City’s Giant Axe football ground are now the official viewing areas for residents and visitors wanting to watch the display.

Jerry North, manager of St Nicholas Arcade said: “I think the retailers are very disappointed.

“It’s a disappointment that such a key event that brings in numbers like no other event is being taken away from the city centre.

“We’ve been told the reasons behind the move are health and safety issues highlighted by the police.

“It’s not a good thing for the city centre or the event itself.”

Ann Morris, manager of the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, mirrored Mr North’s feelings, saying she was also disappointed that the event was no longer going to take place in its traditional venue.

And Roger Carter, chair of Bay Tourism, said he thought the decision was a “backward step”.

But the city council has defended its decision, arguing that the event has grown in popularity over recent years, making it increasingly difficult for people to get into the Castle area and see the event.

Gill Hague, the council’s assistant head of community engagement, said that the area would be completely closed off to the public.

She added: “Visitors told us that the castle precinct was cramped and is not a particularly good area from which to view the fireworks due to its historic layout.

“Many people found that their view of the fireworks was blocked by spectators, buildings and trees.

“Last year we experimented with limiting numbers at the castle but we received similar comments.”

She added that people’s safety was one consideration.

Lancashire Police declined to comment.

Events are due to be organised in the city centre throughout the day including lantern making at the library, guided tours of the city centre, and also a parade down to Ryelands Park, where it is expected there will be a fairground and refreshments.

The display is due to start at 8pm.