THE sparks were flying during an acrimonious stand-off when children climbed on top of a bonfire to defend it.
Caterer Jane Meggitt says the volatile situation threatened to boil over as children and their parents tried to prevent the bonfire being dismantled on the Brook Lane field in Rudheath.
Miss Meggitt claims the parents were even threatened with eviction and prosecution for child neglect if they didn’t back down.
She slammed the “heavy-handed” multi-agency operation to clear the field.
“They’re killjoys,” she fumed. “Local children have been having a bonfire on that field for at least 20 years – but this year they’ve been booted off.
“It’s such a shame. The children were so looking forward to it and tempers got frayed. It developed into a near riot,” she said.
The multi-agency operation involved police, fire brigade, the housing trust and the borough council.
All have robustly defended their roles on public safety grounds.
Insp Peter Minghella said: “We attended to ensure there was no breach of the peace in relation to the ongoing incident regarding the bonfire.
“We also had concerns regarding safety as the structure was unstable. Officers, including an evidence gatherer, remained at the field to take steps to maintain order and reduce the potential for any anti-social behaviour.”