The Hague failed to enforce agreements on New Year's bonfires

New Year's bonfire tower on Scheveningen beach, 31 December 2018
New Year's bonfire tower on Scheveningen beach, 31 December 2018Photo: Vreugdevuur Scheveningen / Facebook

The municipality of The Hague failed to live up to its own agreements for building New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Duindorp and Scheveningen, according to the covenant between the municipality, police, bonfire builders and local safety offices, which was published on Tuesday. The covenant states that if the bonfire towers exceed the maximum height, action must be taken. But nothing was done when this happened, reports.

A tornado of sparks from the Scheveningen bonfire blew across Scheveningen over New Year's, causing multiple fires. At the request of The Hague mayor Pauline Krikke, the Dutch Safety Board is investigating the preparation of the bonfire and the problems that arose after lighting it. The results are expected in the autumn. 

The covenant includes agreements on the structure of the New Year's bonfires in Duindorp and Scheveningen. It states that the bonfire towers can not exceed a height of 35 meters, but this past New Year's the Scheveningen one at least was built to a height of 48 meters, according to the newspaper. The covenant states that the structures must be checked daily. "When the agreed size and/or height is exceeded, the excess must be removed by the organizations", the document reads. "Failure to comply with the agreements in accordance with this covenant may lead to the non-continuation or termination of the fire."

Exactly how it came to be that the Scheveningen structure ended up so much higher than the agreements, is not clear. During a press conference on New Year's Day, mayor Pauline Krikke pointed to the builders. "The builders put extra wood on the piles in the middle of the night", she said.

The builders denied this. According to them, the supply of wood was halted at 5:00 p.m. on December 30th, after they were told to do so because otherwise the tower would become too high. The builders also said that the fire was not higher than had been agreed with the municipality of The Hague. "If the fire brigade told us: 'the pile is becoming too big', then we would not have lit it", a spokesperson said at the time, according to the newspaper.