THE LICKEY Hills Society has moved to explain the situation surrounding the beacon lighting last Thursday which was attended by a small number of people.
The event – on Beacon Hill – faced a backlash on social media with many residents on both sides of the Birmingham and Bromsgrove border questioning why the event was not better publicised in advance as they wanted to witness the historic occasion.
The society was accused of putting on a ‘spectacle for a few chosen elite’.
Coun Adrian Kriss, one of two Rubery councillors, paid for the Beacon and donated it to the Lickey Hills Society to use.
But he said when the group approached Birmingham City Council to get the permissions required, it was told it would only be allowed if it was a small event with an attendance of no more than 50 people.
The society added the beacon only arrived a week before the event, limiting the time it had to fill in the paperwork and get the relevant permissions – and when they did come, they arrived with numerous restrictions.
For a bigger event to take place, police, fire and ambulance cover would have been needed, along with portable toilets and cleaning-up arrangements for after the event.
People do often journey up to the beacon on November 5 and new year’s eve to watch firework displays across the Second City, Worcestershire and the Black Country but these are not official events and lead to surrounding roads becoming snarled with cars.
Chairman Michael Brooke said: “If we could have held a bigger event for the public to attend we would have done.
“But Birmingham City Council, Bromsgrove District and Worcestershire County councils would not provide any funding and we as a society do not have the kind of money needed.”
Coun Kriss said he donated his divisional fund to the Rubery Village Association for its Queen’s Platinum Jubilee events and helped pay for some street parties in the areas his ward covered, including Cofron, Rubery, Lickey and Blackwell.
People commenting on Rubery Community Group on Facebook were unimpressed, accusing the organisers of ‘selfishness’, adding the Lickey Hills were left to the people of Birmingham and the surrounding areas by the Cadbury family so they could be used for special occasions like this.
Many were angry they had ‘missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ and ‘being part of history’.
Coun Peter McDonald, the other Rubery councillor, said many residents had contacted him about the issue.
“Such events bring communities together not segregate them, as I feel has happened with the event not being advertised.
“For, whether you are a royalist or not this is something you would want to see or be a part of, as you might never get the chance again.
“Other lightings in the district and county were advertised, welcoming the public and the question has to be asked – why were only a selected few informed of this event and how were they chosen above the general public?
“Surely we are all equals when it comes to celebrating the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.”
He added he had called for an investigation.
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “At the point we were approached in April to consider an event at Lickey Hills, plans were already well underway for the city’s official event.
“Our parks team only have finite resources available and this was made clear to those seeking to stage an event Lickey Hills.
“We were then approached by the Lickey Hills Society in May for permission to hold a low-key activity to just light a beacon because although they had insufficient time or funding to organise a full event, they were keen to arrange for the opportunity not to be missed and a beacon to be lit in this way, rather than not at all.
“We permitted the lighting of the beacon only with appropriate security and this was supported by two of our rangers on an out-of-hours basis.
“The event organisers chose not to advertise the event to minimise risk of the activity being overwhelmed, and this enabled the event to be staged as planned.”