Brockwell Park fireworks – fantastic or shambolic?

Fireworks lit up Brockwell Park in London. All pictures here by Gavin Freeborn

Lambeth’s first ticketed firework display has received a mixed reaction from local residents.

28,000 people paid to watch this year’s Lambeth Council fireworks in Brockwell Park this Wednesday, with many praising the creative display.

However,  there have been complaints that the event was chaotic – with the fireworks starting late – and that the area fenced off for spectators was badly located and over-crowded.

Writing on the Brixton Blog comment board, Rory Webster said: “Utter shambles of an event. It was like being kettled on a sea of slippery mud.”

Some parents have reported that they felt unsafe with their children at the event.

Siobhan Turner said, “our 5yo was being pushed and shoved by pushy, shovey 20 somethings with bottles of beer in their hands, and even at 8pm it is a late start for the kids.

“8.30pm with the crowd getting angry and our daughter by this stage crying is not what we had wanted.”

Mehki, Nadine & Mylah Nicole from Stockwell Waiting for the Fireworks. Picture by Gavin Freeborn

Although residents have complained about the event’s organisation, many enjoyed the display itself.

Mark said, “When inside it was far more crammed than previous years and very muddy which must have ruined areas of the park for the whole of winter.

“BUT the fireworks were great once again, the team who do them deserve huge credit. Very poorly organised though and my fiancé and I won’t be going again if it’s run like this.”

Some have agreed that the event should be ticketed: “I support the council’s decision to charge particularly at a time of cut backs to their budgets,” said Daz.

Councillor Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, expressed the council’s delight that the fireworks were a success and that people were safely managed.

She said that although the Council were reluctant to introduce ticketing, there was not other option after last year’s overcrowding.

“At a time of budget cuts, it seems irresponsible to spend more than £100,000 on fireworks displays, ” she said.

“We know residents are more concerned about issues such as housing, safety and jobs – and we are determined to focus on these areas,” she continued.

Cllr Edbrooke explained that the fireworks were delayed by around 20-minutes for safety reasons: “Firstly two people had to be removed from the pyrotechnic firing area, and we also delayed the gate closing times to make sure ticket holders had time to get in.”

An explosion of colour. Picture by Gavin Freeborn

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  1. Here’s an idea for Lambeth Council. HAVE THE FIREWORK DISPLAYS SPREAD OUT BETWEEN BROCKWELL PARK, CLAPHAM COMMON AND STREATHAM COMMON!!!! To hell with all the bullshit about traffic conditions and not having enough money etc. Last year we were told that there was going to be a fireworks display on Clapham Common, but at the last minute it got changed to Brockwell Park. Next year I expect to see displays happening not just in Brockwell Park, but also in Clapham Common and Streatham Common just like the days of old.

  2. Charging is a disaster and the council were sneaky in announcing it too late for an effective campaign to stop it. These things should be inclusive community events and ticketing just makes it yet another exclusive event. Lambeth Labour’s continuing efforts to cleanse the borough.

    The way to avoid overcrowding is to reinstate the Clapham and Streatham events.
    This year it was an utter shambles. Even having paid to get in (against my better judgement…), the view of the fireworks was terrible. Corralled under Stalag-Luft spotlights in an arena full of queues for burgers. No indication of where the show would actually be.

    But I understand the cuts. We need innovative ways of paying for it., that keep it inclusive. Update “penny-for-the-guy” so hipsters pay with their smartphone apps – use a bit of imagination. The money is there – I’d happily pay £7 if there were no ring of steel and it meant the community could all go.

    It’s just so depressing that whenever these problems arise the only answer is contract it out to a corporate. Even commercial sponsorship would be better than this.

  3. I live close to Brockwell Park and went to the fireworks in 2013 and 2014. Lambeth have a tough choice. Last year leaving the park became very difficult and many parents with children (and some of us without kids) were clearly anxious about becoming crushed or separated trying to get through the gates. That couldn’t continue. Also can the council justify spending £100k on a free display when there are more pressing uses for that funding?

    Having been involved in events for many years getting it right when you change the way you do something is a really big challenge. The site did have an odd layout, viewing wasn’t great for everyone and there weren’t nearly enough food and drink outlets. That said I think the team did a good job that they’ll learn from and make it better next year.

    Personally as a long time resident of the borough I’d rather pay a small amount for a great display and evening out than have that money diverted from services that keep the borough functioning. So I wish the team luck for next year. I’m sure they’ll be reflecting a lot on what they can do to fix many of the issues

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