‘Give Lewes Bonfire a miss’ urges emergency services

Emergency services and local authorities are urging people to rule out visiting Lewes for bonfire celebrations on November 5.

It comes following new Covid-19 restrictions on social gatherings.

A spokesman said: “The event usually attracts tens of thousands of people to the town and causes overcrowding, but this year there are serious concerns that there will be additional public health issues due to the pandemic.

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“Bonfire societies are already changing or cancelling their plans which means the public will not be able to see the usual celebrations.”

Lewes Bonfire 2019. Photo by Jon Rigby

Commercial Square last month became the second society to say it would not be taking part in any Lewes Bonfire event this year.

Cliffe Bonfire Society had earlier ruled themselves out of proceedings.

Southover Bonfire Society have also posted on their website to say they will not be taking part this year.

Pat O’Toole, chairman of Southover Bonfire Society, said: “We have been in ongoing discussions to work out possible scenarios for the 5th, while protecting the health and safety of our members, their families, the public and the emergency services.

“We have been trying to look at every option in an ever-changing environment. Sadly, we have reached the tough decision that we are not going to be able to host our annual celebrations on November 5th this year.

“We are all very disappointed, as we know you will be, but with the advice from Government and health professionals unlikely to change this year, plus the threat of a second wave, we cannot compromise on health and safety.

“All we can do is plan to be back next year – better than ever.”

Six Lewes societies traditionally take part in the event.

John Lamb, mayor of Lewes, said it was ‘unlikely’ that any of the bonfire societies will be holding an official parade or fireworks on November 5, although, he said, there may be small services at the war memorial.

He added: “It will be a great disappointment to everyone in the town that this fantastic annual event has been so cruelly curtailed this year, but in the circumstances there is probably no other decision that our bonfire societies, who do so much good for Lewes, could make.

“We look forward to them resuming service as usual when it is safe to do so.”

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