THE home city of Guy Fawkes could yet again have no public bonfire and fireworks this year, after York councillors rejected plans for a civic display.

York Tourism Bureau chief Gillian Cruddas today reacted with dismay, saying the city was in danger of missing out on global publicity.

There was international derision last year when York, the birthplace of gunpowder plotter Fawkes, was left with no public bonfire celebrations.

But ruling Liberal Democrats at cash-strapped City of York Council have decided against spending £50,000 on a display - meaning residents can once again forget, forget the fifth of November.

Only 7.5 per cent of people who took part in the budget consultation supported the outlay on a display, and the Lib Dems opted not to include it in their proposals for 2008/09, which will be debated next Thursday.

Mrs Cruddas said: "We're disappointed by this news.

"Fireworks would provide the potential for worldwide publicity for York because of the city's connection with Guy Fawkes.

"This would lead to increased income for the city. It's a missed opportunity for York and we would urge any private organisations which could fund a celebration to get in touch with us."

The council has rarely organised fireworks in recent years but, until last year, residents could attend alternatives at York City FC's ground or in Heslington.

Last year, the long-running Heslington event was cancelled because organisers could not find an insurer willing to cover it, while the football club could not get a safety certificate.

The Heslington event is virtually certainly off again this year, but York City director Sophie McGill offered some hope.

She said: "It's certainly something we would be interested in hosting, but we may need some assistance and guidance from the local authority."

The club does not currently have a fire safety officer, and Ms McGill said a lot of work would need to be done before any event.

Christian Vassie, the council's executive member for leisure and culture, said: "Fireworks displays are great fun to see, but our budget priorities are very tight in City of York Council, and if we have a choice between trying to tackle climate change and having a great bonfire and firework display it is a difficult choice.

"I think we are right to celebrate Guy Fawkes as part of our heritage, but given the priorities that are facing the city, I can understand why the decision has been taken as it has."

Coun Vassie said fireworks were also environmentally damaging, but said one large display would be better than many small private ones across the city.

Coun Paul Healey, Tory spokesman for leisure and culture, said: "It's disappointing the city is not able to recognise one of its most infamous sons and the Conservatives look forward to working with all parties to ensure we do not have another year without a fireworks display."

Labour leader Coun David Scott was unable to say whether Labour would support funding for fireworks.

Festivals safe

ALTHOUGH there may be no civic fireworks party in York, the Lib Dems have protected other popular celebrations.

The council considered cutting funding for City of Festivals, which could have sounded the death knell for events such as the Festival of the Rivers, York Music Live and Dance York.

A fifth of those who took part in the budget consultation voted for such a £57,000 cut, that would have reduced the number of festivals and community events.

The Lib Dems also opted against a £15,000 cut in funding for York Theatre Royal, which would have resulted in less youth work and studio performances.

York Tourism Bureau chief executive Gillian Cruddas said the organisation was "very pleased" that City of Festivals and York Theatre Royal funding had been supported.

Unit spared axe

CAMPAIGNERS have spoken of their relief after a vital mental health unit in York was saved from drastic budget cuts.

The closure of the Sycamore House drop-in centre was touted as a way of saving City of York Council £111,000.

But the suggestion sparked dismay from customers, and the ruling Lib Dems have now pledged to keep it open. Coupled with a similar pledge from the Labour opposition, the announcement means the centre is now safe.

Maggie Bennett of the Sycamore House Customer Group told councillors: "We are both relieved and delighted that you do not intend to pursue the proposal."

She presented a petition against the closure anyway, and complained that customers had not been consulted about the suggestion before it was published in the budget papers.