WW wonders WHY Godalming Town Council organises its annual firework celebrations?

Screen Shot 2019-09-08 at 16.01.17.png

Here’s a message from Paul Follows Leader of Godalming Town Council, who may have thrown a damp squib into the Town’s forthcoming bonfire night celebrations?


 Many if you will have heard by now that the Town Council has voted to cancel this year’s fireworks.

As the leader of the town council, I think I need to weigh in (and of course take the responsibility for the decision we have taken).

This is why we cancelled them:

1- it not only makes a financial loss each time but a growing one. The previous administration accepted that loss growing 3 years in a row and did not act. We have.

WW – likes decisive.

2 – the cost in money is dwarfed by the amount of officers time required to run it.

WW – you mean officers of the council organise the event? Why? When in every other town and village locals clubs and organisations like the Lions, and the Round Table are the organisers?

3 – new councils have new priorities and I would rather provide long term deliverables than essentially setting fire to money for one night.

WW – Hear, hear. Ever heard the one about Waverley Borough Council’s Chief Executive Cllr Follows? You know the one called`Mrs. Mop who famously used £10,000 of the taxpayers’ money so she could press the plunger and light up the night sky at a pop concert in Bramley? Those were the days my friend when ‘Your Waverley had money to burn!

4 – I wish the ongoing cuts to youth, social and children’s services got this much outcry then perhaps people might not vote for governments bringing austerity.

WW An outcry? By whom? Build your own bonfire Godalming residents – get out there, raise the funds among yourselves like everyone else in the borough. Farnham’s Round Table do it over here and so does the Farnham Rugby Club.

5 – Vulnerable people, pets, the environmental impact were also all discussed as considerations on this decision.

WW – Too bloody true. Among our team of keyboard warriors there are seven dogs, and three cats, who have to be stuffed in the wardrobe every Guy Fawkes Night, and then shiver for days afterward.

Although we would not seek to recreate the loss elsewhere, I do believe this action would free up some funding. As a starter for 10 our youth services working group could get some funds to start really thinking about projects for young people and in regards to anti-social behaviour.

WW Just a thought – hows about getting the little erks organising next year’s bonfire, instead of setting fire to their fags or anything else!?! You could even give them a few quid as a start-up fund?

So I just want to say – I’m being upfront that we have done this, and why. It was a difficult decision and long-debated but you didn’t elect me to shy away from difficult choices.

WW – Spot on – we elected you to make difficult decisions, act decisively in the interests of Godalming residents. because it is OUR money you are sending up in smoke.

Paul Follows Happy to discuss as always.

PS. I’m a Godalming resident too, I also really loved going to the Fireworks. I also very much regret we had to take this decision. But that is the situation we are in. Ultimately- I’m here telling you about this (I don’t think many of the previous leaders or councillors would have done that). I’ll take the flack, that’s my job.

WW doesn’t think that the previous ‘Gutless of Godalming’ would have either made the decision or taken the flack. But just duck – and perhaps put our post up in the hope that local groups or organizations step up to the mark and pick up our challenge. After all lighting fires is not a corporate responsibility of a council – is it? Because if it is – tell all the other parish and town councils in the borough.


Godalming Conservative Councillor Steve Cosser lit the touch paper on the Lib dem coalition town council’s decision to cancel the fireworks funding by posting a rant on the Godalming Community Facebook Page.

Unfortunately, he was caught out posting whilst the meeting was still in progress! What a Tosser Cosser.
As usual Conservative Councillor, Ross Welland was nowhere to be seen. Probably out building the bonfire?


The ensuing online debate has raged over several days with several hundred comments. It was lovely to see so many grumpy Conservatives contributing to the debate. One set up an online poll.. which so far has seen the Lib Dems decision validated 2 to 1.

10 thoughts on “WW wonders WHY Godalming Town Council organises its annual firework celebrations?”

  1. I could have sworn that the Tosser and his Conservative colleagues promised us residents that the Godalming Fireworks would breakeven. Cos otherwise how could you possibly justify an event where only people who pay can participate? That means the rest of us subsidise the entertainment of a few. So, why didn’t we know sooner that it was making a loss?

  2. The Round Table used to organise this event on the Lammas Fields, complete with bonfire. They pulled out in 2016 (?) citing the onerous requirements of HSE. GTC then took it on and moved it to the Burys, without bonfire. This is how Town Council are involved. Last year’s event (as per GTC accounts show the event generated £10.888 in revenue, including concessions. Tickets were £6.40, so it’s reasonable to assume about 1500 people paid to attend, as opposed to standing on the opposite side of the road and ignoring collection buckets. Perhaps not so popular?

  3. Thank you for the explanation John – strange old world isn’t it. It appears the residents of Godalming would rather pay twice for the priviledge of watching a firework disdplay with no bonfire- rather than dig into their deep pockets to put money into the Round Table collection buckets after watching a bonfire and firework display?

  4. I thought it was the ever increasing Public Liability Insurance that was the killer cost for the Lions? As a bigger public body it made sense for GTC to take it on and spread the PLI cost across the year. Can’t see an apportioned line item in the event budget, but for my events it is significant – can be an extra £500 – £2000 per event depending on the risk and amount of hired in 3rd party equipment.

  5. How can all the other oranisation including ours in Farnham – and we understand those who organise similar events in the villages around, – afford the Public Liability Insurance we wonder?

    Perhaps some of those organisations will let us know how they manage their events – by posting on this site or by dropping a private message on contact@waverleyweb.org

  6. Has anyone explored the possibility that some organisations do it without proper Public Liability Insurance? Many voluntary organisations have PL cover through their parent organisations; but most normal PL insurance specifically excludes Fireworks events which need separate cover on an event by event basis. I’d like to think all organisations are responsible enough to check and put the right insurance in place….

  7. From what we hear privately – other organisations have no problem with insurance.

    Amazing isn’t it – huge important decisions being made in our borough – Waverley Borough Council shortly to declare a Climate Emergency – which will have an impact on all our lives and who does the BBC invite along to talk on the radio this morning – Paul Follows about… FIREWORKS in Godalming?!?

    1. I must admit that was one of my first thoughts too :). A combination of robes and fireworks being the two issues. But it’s not for me to decide what people want to talk about.

      Actually I think we have seen a little bit of a press surge in Godalming of late after a lengthy gap. I was thinking perhaps actually it might have been for a reason…

      Brexit, climate emergency – and very soon transparency and governance are all being covered locally now (and even in the Herald, which was a new one for me).

      Anyway you all know by now I’ll talk about anything given then opportunity and I think our new, active and progressive town council (that does things and takes a stand on issues) is something worth talking about.

      1. We were not criticising you for commenting, perish the thought, but on the BBC for paying attention to such a minor issue, though it appears it has fired everyone’s imagination.

        Hopefully the BBC will invite you along to talk about the really important issues you mention; Brexit; climate emergency, and transparency and governance in the future?

        It is great to see our town council taking a stand, and making decisions which, although uncomfortble, save council taxpayers’ money.

  8. Can somebody on the Waverley Web please tell me how calling Conservative Councillor Steve Cosser a ‘Tosser’ is supposed to help advance your political agenda. Do you seriously believe resorting to this childish behavior is ever going to win over people.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.