Bonfire organisers speak out

A previous Gadle Braes bonfire ready to be set alight
A previous Gadle Braes bonfire ready to be set alight
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Organisers of the Gadle Braes bonfire have told the Buchanie that they “guarantee” the event will go ahead despite concerns over safety.

Simon Gemmel and Mark Alexander read the comment from Aberdeenshire Council in last week’s Buchanie and decided to tell their side of the story.

A previous Gadle Braes bonfire up in flames

A previous Gadle Braes bonfire up in flames

Mark said: “That bonfire has 100 years of history and the council want to nail it on the head.

“This is a community event and it’s not like we hold it just for ourselves.”

Simon added: “Why don’t the council want to work with us? Hundreds of people come to see it.

“The council say they get complaints about it but no one has ever said anything to us, they are trying to make us look bad but local residents come along and support us.”

The organisers put on a firework show as well as the bonfire

The organisers put on a firework show as well as the bonfire

Mark and Simon have obtained a licence to hold the bonfire over the last five years and say that only this year has been different.

Simon explained: “They usually tell us in advance to get our licence and we fill the forms out no bother, but they only told us last week that we would have to apply for a new licence and it wouldn’t come into force for another six weeks.

“They also told us we would need to get Public Liability Insurance and we have never had to do that before.”

Aberdeenshire Council stated that without a licence the organisers would be at risk, but Mark said they will have safety measures in place as he explained: “We always have barriers in place and proper security guards so people can’t get near the bonfire.

“We have our own fireworks but they are never pointed at the crowds.

“People in the area have been injured in the past but that’s because they set off their own fireworks in their garden, that isn’t our fault and it has nothing to do with us.”

Simon added: “We have read allegations that gas canisters had been in the bonfire, this is completely obscene and we try our very best to make sure there is nothing that could cause harm to any member of the public.

“We urge members of the public to come and see the hard work and dedication from guys that are down day and night to help bring the community together and ensure they have a great night.”

Both Mark and Simon are adamant that the bonfire will go ahead as they said: “We guarantee that the bonfire will be lit at 7.30pm on November 5.

“We will do whatever it takes to ensure it happens.”

Councillor Alan Gardiner fully supports the Gadle Braes bonfire but is calling for action to ensure the event can be carried on in years to come.

Speaking to the Buchanie he said: “I am all for it but safety is imperative.

“There should be a public meeting held early next year for everyone interested in running the bonfire to meet with the Fire Service to ensure the event can run safely.

“Things are moving on and everyone needs to look at the options that are available to them.”