CLIFFE Bonfire Society’s announcement it will not be taking part in one of the world’s biggest bonfire night celebrations this year means the future of event is thrown into doubt.

The Lewes Bonfire stalwarts said the decision was taken “primarily to protect our members’ and community’s safety”.

The Cliffe Bonfire Society is one of the seven societies that take part in the annual event.

The others are Commercial Square, Lewes Borough, Nevill Juvenile, Southover, South Street and Waterloo bonfire societies.

The Argus:

The Argus understands that discussions surrounding the future of this year’s event are still ongoing.

In recent years, a multi-agency group involving all seven societies as well as Sussex Police, South East Coast Ambulance Service, East Sussex Highways, East Sussex County Council, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Lewes District Council and Southern Rail has been formed to plan for the bonfire night celebrations.

The Argus:

With the sheer scale of the event meaning the 17,000-strong population of Lewes can be quadrupled for the evening, these groups advise on safety and transport measures which are put in place to prevent disruption to the surrounding area.

Lewes District Council said a multi-agency group is currently deciding the fate of this year’s bonfire celebrations.

A council spokesman said: “The decision by Cliffe is theirs alone.

The Argus:

“The multi-agency group, of which Lewes District Council is a part, has not made a decision on Lewes Bonfire at this time.”

The Government is currently advising against large gatherings.

A spokesman said: “While the risks of transmitting the disease at mass gatherings are relatively low, these steps will also allow emergency services that would have been deployed for these events to be prioritised in alleviating pressure on public services.”