After scary weather, Fright Night faces financial test

Fright Night,Sheffield City Centre.....5 years old Daisy Nix from Ecclesall
Fright Night,Sheffield City Centre.....5 years old Daisy Nix from Ecclesall

Organisers of Fright Night are to meet council and police representatives soon to discuss the financial spectre that threatens one of Sheffield’s most popular events.

They had a fair share of scares last Sunday because of the forecasts of high winds and heavy rain, and at one time there was the risk of the city centre Hallowe’en celebrations being called off.

In the event it was the worst weather in the 13 years that Fright Night has been running, but not as bad as predicted, and it went ahead after some of the attractions were cancelled or relocated for health and safety reasons.

Although there was some rain and wind and turnout was down slightly, to between 35,000 and 40,000, the event was judged to be another major success. “Everything else went amazing well,” said Scott Barton, of Yellow Bus Events. “Good northern folk came through with their support.”

Now attention turns to the finances for next year, especially the council and the threat of a charge for the policing, suggested previously at £8,000.

Scott said: “There is nothing in the budget for a police charge and I can’t see the council are going to pay it. Therefore it would be terminal.”

He is seeking the support of South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright and local MP Clive Betts in discussions that will determine whether there is a Fright Night next year.

Meanwhile, the 13th almost turned out to be the unluckiest.

“The big safety issue was the wind. Certainly the forecast was a lot worse than what turned out, but you can’t take the risk.”

Calling off the event was “a serious consideration. With the council, we have a responsibility to make sure visitors and performers are safe.”

A proposed performance by Hype Dance in Millennium Square was dropped because of the threat of the wind bringing down a gazebo covering lighting and sound equipment. A science demonstration - of activities such as exploding pumpkins - was relocated indoors, from Tudor Square to the Winter Garden.

The wind made it too dangerous to operate The Bomber, a fairground attraction in the shape of a giant rotating blade in Surrey Street next to the Central Library.

But there was plenty to entertain visitors, with entertainment across the city centre, starting with activities for younger children, Fright Night’s Little Brother, on The Moor.

Among the successes - again - were the zombies curated by Prof Vanessa Toulmin, of the University of Sheffield.

Some revellers had come from outside the Sheffield area.

Cat Barrington, aged 34, and partner Francis Gray, 32, had travelled from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire.

Cat said: “This is our second year at Fright Night and it is getting bigger and better. There are lots more costumes this year too - we love it.”