A POPULAR annual event is at risk of being cancelled this year.

The Hogmanay bonfire in nearby Biggar may not go ahead as organisers have been told South Lanarkshire Council has received safety concerns.

Members of the Biggar community have come together to campaign to save the centuries-old bonfire – which has only been cancelled or postponed on three previous occasions in the last hundred years.

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Lesley Craise, chair of the Biggar Bonfire Committee, said: “After the incredibly difficult 18 months faced by this town like so many in Scotland and beyond, it is more important than ever that the historical traditions which make this community what it is are supported and facilitated.

“What this community needs this festive season is the chance to be together, to heal and to remind ourselves why the sacrifice of the last year has been worth it.”

She added: “What we do not need is to be obstructed. If community traditions with the profile of Biggar’s bonfire can be under threat, can any community in Scotland have any confidence that they won’t be next?”

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Last year the bonfire was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, now the local authority says that concerns have been raised that the location of the bonfire could pose an issue.

Save Biggar’s Bonfire, the group hoping to save the event, says that in the early 1990s a gas mains pipeline was moved to where it then ran directly below where the bonfire sits.

Then later in the 90s, during development of the High Street, South Lanarkshire Council provided a cobbled space for the bonfire, directly above the gas mains – the bonfire has been placed at this site for the last 30 years.

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The group added that a range of measures are in place to mitigate any risks, including the laying of aggregate under the fire and a gas leak test is undertaken by the Scottish Gas Networks a day before the event.

Ms Craise said: “All we are asking is for all the mitigating measures we have been assured were sufficient over the last 30 years to remain sufficient for one further year and then to arrange with Scottish Gas Networks to relocate a gas main they now claim should never have been there in the first place.”

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A South Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: “We are aware that some concerns have been raised about the location of the bonfire by the multi-agency Events Safety Advisory Group (ESAG), which provides advice on public safety at events. These concerns principally relate to the location of a gas supply pipe directly underneath the proposed bonfire and the close proximity of spectators should any issues arise. However, the ESAG has no decision-making powers. Rather, any decision will be taken when the application for a temporary public entertainment licence is considered by the council’s licensing committee.

“We understand the desire among many local people for the bonfire to return after being cancelled last year due to the COVID pandemic. That is why council officers have been working with the organisers for many weeks in order to ensure public safety is protected.”