MSP welcomes end to Whithorn fireworks row

Alex Fergusson MSP

Alex Fergusson MSP

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Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson has welcomed a joint statement from Whithorn Community Council and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service which resolves the long running dispute since the cancellation of the 2014 Whithorn fireworks display at the insistence of SFRS.

The statement reads:

“Following extended discussions between the Community Council and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)since the disappointing cancellation in 2014 of the popular fireworks display at Whithorn Fire Station, and the consequent press coverage, a meeting chaired by local MSP, Alex Fergusson, was held in Whithorn on 7th December 2015 to address all the outstanding issues.

At the meeting, which was attended by Paul Connelly, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer of SFRS’s West area, in order to correct any misunderstandings created by press coverage in late 2014, the following points were agreed by all parties:-

• That previous fireworks events, until 2014, were undertaken by the former Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service and, since creation of SFRS, policies, procedures and historical practices of antecedent Fire and Rescue Services have in some areas been superseded, including informal arrangements which previously existed in relation to the organisation of the Whithorn fireworks display

• For the avoidance of doubt, it was not the intention of SFRS to attribute blame to the Community Council for the cancellation of the fireworks event in November 2014 or to imply culpability of any kinds on the part of the Community Council in relation to the organisation of the display.

• SFRS accept that the cancellation of the 2014 Whithorn fireworks display, due to the late notice given by SFRS of the withdrawal of its facilities, made it impossible for the local community to organise an alternative display that year and apologises for the disappointment caused by the late cancellation of this popular community event.

• SFRS and the Community Council are pleased to acknowledge the efforts of local people in forming a new Royal Burgh of Whithorn and District Fireworks Display group, which in its first year successfully held a popular and well organised event during November 2015. SFRS looks forward to closer links with the Whithorn community through its support for other local events involving the Whithorn Fire Station and personnel in the future.”

Following the release of the statement Mr Fergusson said: “I am delighted that both sides can now put this damaging incident behind them and move forward to mutual benefit. Representatives from both sides have shown a willingness to compromise in order to achieve an agreed outcome, and that is to the benefit of all.”