A COMMUNITY group in Haydon Bridge is warning that this year’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display could be the village’s last.

The Get it Together group has been holding a display in the village for the last five years.

The display sees the road bridge in the town closed to traffic for around half an hour to allow residents to view the display safely.

In the past, Northumberland County Council has closed the road for free, but this year it has announced that it will be charging £250, which will be increased to £500 next year, putting the event’s future in jeopardy.

Pauline Wallis, a member of Get it Together, said: “The county council told us that there was going to be a charge of £250 which will increase to £500 next year, which is huge.

“It’s an awful lot of money and this year could be the last year of fireworks.

“We’re a community group and we do it for the benefit of the village and to bring the village together as a community.

“Everything we do is for Haydon Bridge. It just means that the people are going to miss out.

“This is the fifth year we’ve done the fireworks, and we get hundreds of people coming out. All the pubs are busy and we feel we bring money into the village.”

Despite the objections of residents, Northumberland County Council claimed that the road closure had only been free due to a legal loophole.

A spokesman for the council said: “ The charging policy has not changed. The process is simply now being applied correctly.

“Previously the road closure had historically been processed under a different Act – the Town & Police Clauses Act 1847 Section 21 – which is free of charge.

“Legally, the purpose of the event was not compliant with Section 21 and we needed to ensure the correct process was being followed.

“This resulted in there being a charge due to the requirement to publish an appropriate temporary traffic regulation order.

“Event organisers were notified of the proposed charges for road closures by letter in December, 2017.

“However, in order to help them with their financial planning for events we have phased this in and only sought 50 per cent of the charge for this year, with full cost recovery taking place from 2019 onwards.”

Pauline added that the fireworks display would definitely be going ahead this year, and suggested that residents who were unhappy with the council’s decision should write to the authority and ask it to reconsider.