'Hell of a shame' - Popular bonfire night cancelled over insurance fears

The bonfire at Hatfield House's fireworks display

The bonfire on The Buttlands in Wells-next-the-Sea is not happening for the second year running as the organiser fear people will park their cars too close to the flames, and thus void their insurance. - Credit: Archant

A town’s bonfire will not go ahead this year over concerns that its insurance policy would be breached.

The bonfire on The Buttlands in Wells-next-the-Sea is not happening for the second year running as the organiser fears people will park their cars too close to the flames, and thus void the event's insurance.

The event, which is organised by the Buttlands Bonfire Preservation Group, announced that it has become impossible to meet the insurers' demands that no vehicles can park within 25 metres of the perimeter of the bonfire, as they have had instances in the past of people moving cones and parking too close.

Wells town councillor Ray Hewitt, who is against the move. Picture: Ian Burt

Wells town councillor Ray Hewitt. - Credit: Ian Burt

Ray Hewitt, who has been involved with the bonfire since the 1970s, said: “It is a hell of a shame and I’m very gutted.

“It is not that we can't comply with the 25 metres, the problem is people come in here, park and leave their cars.


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“Most of the properties in Wells haven't got parking, so they are leaving their cars anywhere in the town. There is not enough parking around and that is the crux of the matter.

“I didn’t feel that I could risk getting the council into trouble with the insurance company because of one simple thing. If we have to cancel it on the night, then you have all the problems of clearing the massive bonfire.”

The Buttlands in Wells-next-the-Sea would display the bonfire held every year in the town. 

The Buttlands in Wells-next-the-Sea would display the bonfire held every year in the town. - Credit: Google Maps

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This is the second year the bonfire has not gone ahead, after being cancelled last year as a result of the pandemic.

However, the long-serving town council member hopes the event will return next year, as the 81-year-old aims to usher in new members to the bonfire group and secure the event’s future.

“Every time I have spoken about the bonfire I have said there will not be one this year, not forever and a day,” he said.

“There is a young man I know, who has expressed an interest in taking over the baton from me.

“Next year, I hope that I will be able to help steer him along with the event. 

"There is a good chance these nice young people will pick up the baton and secure the legacy of the event.”

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