Preliminary plans for Peace Day

Peace Day parade 1919

Reports of the Peace Celebration Committee were submitted to Luton Town Council by the Mayor (Councillor Henry Impey) on Tuesday, February 18th, 1919. They recommended:

That official recognition be given to a proposed performance by the Luton Choral Society at St Mary's Church in connection with the celebrations.

That a scheme of decoration for the Town Hall prepared by the Borough Surveyor be approved.

That the tender of Messrs J. Pain & Son to provide a display of fireworks at a cost of £100 be accepted.

That flags and streamers be purchased from Messrs Barnes & Co, Wood Street, London, at a cost of £50, their tender being lower than a local one submitted.

That the cost of the firework display be defrayed from private subscription.

That the following sketch programme be approved – Procession; decoration and illumination of Town Hall and Corn Exchange; illumination of Wardown Lake; fireworks; bands; concerts, dancing; sports; souvenir for schoolchildren; Luton Choral Society performance at St Mary's Church; subscription banquet.

The report further stated:

Finance – You Committee have further considered the question of the mode of providing funds for defraying the cost of the peace celebrations, and the Mayor announced he was prepared to give £100 towards the expenses. Resolved: That having regard to the number of recent appeals to the public for subscriptions to charitable funds, and to the important appeal which will be made for funds for a local War Memorial, this Committee are of opinion that the cost of the local peace celebrations (except fireworks) should be defrayed out of public funds, and therefore recommend the Council to authorise them to expend, out of the Borough Fund, a sum not exceeding the produced (approximately £500) of a rate of one halfpenny in the pound for such purpose.

The adoption of the reports was moved by the Mayor and seconded by Councillor Barford, and an interesting debate ensued.

It was stated that the replies received from the firms approached as to sending decorated cars had been most satisfactory; and in regard to the illumination of Wardown it was hoped to provide a method which could be used on subsequent occasions.

The discussion ranged mainly on the question of the advisability of including a firework display and whether the whole cost should be met from private subscriptions or from rate-aided funds. Points made were:

The Mayor (Councillor Henry Impey): The bulk of the cost should be spread over the whole town, for it was not desired to prejudice the appeal which would be made for funds for a War Memorial.

Councillor Barford: It was hoped to make it such a day as Luton had never seen, and as probably no one living would see again; and no ratepayer would object to a rate of a halfpenny in the £.

Councillor Bone: The nation had seen enough fireworks and he regarded the Committee's proposal as completely unnecessary and a waste of money.

The Deputy Mayor (Councillor C. Dillingham): Opposed fireworks being purchased from public funds and favoured the whole cost being raised by private subscription. £500 was nothing in a town like Luton.

Councillor Attwood: Some wanted fireworks, and the Council should be open-minded in the matter; whilst providing the funds from the rates would be the fairest way to all.

Councillor Briggs: Agreed with the Deputy Mayor that nothing should be paid from the rates, and thought the figure of £500 could easily be improved on by private effort. Moved an amendment giving effect to this principle.

Councillor Hubbard: Seconded, saying he thought there would be no difficulty in raising the money and that the appeal for a permanent War Memorial would not be prejudiced.

Councillor Barford: The expenditure would not be limited to £500; that was merely the Council's lead, and a proof that they were prepared to contribute a portion of the amount required.

Alderman Wilkinson: Supported the Committee's “nice modest programme,” which catered for all sections. Approved of the firework display, recalling how popular a similar event proved on the occasion of the Coronation.

The amendment was lost, only four members (Councillors Dillingham, Briggs, Unwin and Hubbard) voting in favour. The report was adopted.

[The Luton News: Thursday, February 20th, 1919]