FIREWORKS WERE LIT once again in the Moray Council debating chamber on Wednesday when a local group providing an annual November 5 display sought to reclaim just £437.
Members of the Licensing Committee were asked to approve an application from the Portgordon Fireworks Committee that they receive a licence rebate following their 22nd annual display last year.
Thousands attend the Portgordon event which has traditionally kicked off Guy Fawkes celebrations in Moray – but the rebate application this year sparked its own set of fireworks with councillors grumbling about financial pressures and testing times.
Forres councillor George Alexander pointed out that councillors “could be legitimately accused of being happy to send our money up in smoke” by continuing to spend money of firework displays in Moray.
He added: “I do not think that the taxpayer should continually be doling out for these types of event – the council needs to look at what it should be paying for. If it costs money to issue a licence then let’s charge for it and not offer a rebate.
“I am not a great supporter of staging firework displays that impact on the public purse, but I have no problem with organisations seeking to collect their own money for them.”
Councillor Alexander’s comments came after members were told that a review of licencing fee procedures was being undertaken after officials had discovered that the current system was costing more than it was bringing in.
Sean Hoath, who is the depute clerk of the licencing board in Moray, told councillors: “Income is falling short of expenditure as a result of a drop in applications. We will try to recover that through the number of applications we receive.”
Despite Councillor Alexander’s outburst, councillors agreed to the Portgordon rebate application.