Published: Thursday, 28 December 2023

Oxford City Council will be ensuring remediation works are undertaken in South Park to repair extensive surface damage.

This follows damage caused by heavy machinery moving over saturated ground following the annual fireworks event on 4 November 2023.  

Inspection of the site by specialists has confirmed there has been no long term damage sustained to the ridge and furrow archaeological features. Nevertheless, restoration will involve some ground levelling and reseeding areas of the park.   

This needs to take place when the conditions allow for the work to be undertaken without further damage and the new seed to take which is likely to be in the early spring. These areas may need to be cordoned off for a period to enable the grass to germinate.  

In the meantime signage will encourage users to take different paths through the park to avoid the muddy uneven areas and prevent further churning up of the ground.  

The Council is engaging with local stakeholders including Friends of South Park and Oxford Preservation Trust, to keep them informed about the restoration works.  The Council is also holding discussions with these groups and Oxford Round Table which hosts the annual Charity Fireworks Display, over lessons that can be learned from what happened, and how such damage to the park can be avoided in future. All options will be considered and the Council will ensure its engagement also involves other community groups and residents.  

“South Park is one of the jewels in Oxford’s crown and it sits right next to my own ward - so I fully shared the upset many people felt when they saw the damage caused following this year’s fireworks event.  

“After all the rain we’ve had, the heavy plant used to take stalls and the funfair on and off the site churned up the ground in a way we haven’t experienced before. There are lessons to be learned to prevent this happening in future. We will of course ensure the park is fully restored, as soon as the growing season permits.  

“Meanwhile, we are looking at what steps we can take to avoid this happening again. Oxford Round Table has held a charity fireworks event in South Park for over fifty years and this year sold more than 25,000 tickets.

“At this stage I don’t want to rule in or out any options. I will also ensure we engage with the wider Oxford community before any final decision is taken.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council

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