18th June 2024

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Great Fire of Dronfield Statement

At the ordinary meeting of Dronfield Town Council held on Monday 4th September 2023 a proposal was put forward and seconded that permission should not be granted for the Great Fire of Dronfield 2023 to be held on the Dronfield Woodhouse Recreation Ground over concerns of public safety. This proposal was then put to a vote and was passed unanimously.

The Town Council are very much aware of the significance of the Great Fire of Dronfield to the town and Dronfield Woodhouse Sports & Social Club, which is why this decision was not taken lightly. It was discussed by the full council at length and the resolution was unanimous not to grant permission.

The Town Council's first consideration above everything else is the safety of the attendees, volunteers and trades people that attend that event and following the submission of the documentation requested by the Council, there were concerns and a lack of confidence in the safety and organisation of the event.

The Town Council wrote to the committee of Dronfield Woodhouse Sports & Social Club Ltd back in January to inform them of the decision to implement a list of pre-event conditions for the Great Fire of Dronfield 2023. It was made clear within that communication that these conditions must be met by the deadline specified for permission to be granted for the Great Fire of Dronfield to be held on the Recreation Ground in 2023.

The pre-event conditions were put in place by the Council following serious concerns that have been raised regarding the safety of the event in the past. At the beginning of August, the Council received the following documentation from the Sports & Social Club (1) a covering letter, (2) a bonfire risk assessment, (3) a traffic management plan, (4) the Sport & Social Clubs fire risk assessment and (5) confirmation of registration of the event with the Derbyshire Safety Events Partnerships.

However, upon reviewing the documentation received, the Town Council continued to have concerns about the organisation and safety of the event as it was clear from reading through the documents that had been provided, that they had not been updated or reviewed for the Great Fire of Dronfield 2023, despite having had seven months' notice to do so.

There was no public liability insurance in place for the event, however it was stated that this would be the same as last year's insurance. That insurance policy clearly stated that the bonfire needed to be located 100m away from the nearest property and that there should be one marshall for every 250 attendees.

The insurance policy in 2022 was then amended on 4th November – the day before the event - to specify that the bonfire could be 60m away from the nearest property. This should be reflected in the risk assessment for the forthcoming event and yet both the original and subsequently updated risk assessment provided states that the bonfire will be "50ft" away from the nearest property, which is the equivalent of just 15m. This would therefore invalidate any public liability insurance in place.

There is also no mention in the risk assessment of how many marshalls will be in attendance, which again based on the past insurance policy is quite clear and specific that there should be one marshall for every 250 attendees. If the correct number of marshalls were not present at the event, this would again invalidate any public liability insurance.

The Fire Risk Assessment for the Sports & Social Club, which was submitted originally failed to state who carried out the assessment or when. The assessment stated that fire safety and fire training were the responsibility of people that are no longer involved with the Club, which would suggest it hasn't been updated since the change in Committee. Therefore, according to the Fire Risk Assessment provided there was no one currently responsible for fire safety at the Club.

Representatives of the Town Council have met with the Committee of the Sports & Social Club on several previous occasions over the past few years to provide support and advice to the Club. However, from past experience when information and documentation has been requested from the Committee it has not always been forthcoming.

The decision has therefore been taken by full council not to grant permission for the Great Fire of Dronfield 2023 to be held on the Dronfield Woodhouse Recreation ground over concerns for the safety of attendees at the event.

Draft Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 4th September 2023

Posted: Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Tags: Great Fire of Dronfield