A multi-agency group is urging people to stay away from Lewes today (Saturday, 4) as the bonfire takes place, rather than attending the event.

The town will not be accessible from midday onwards until tomorrow morning (Sunday, 5), while agencies have said cars parked on the A27 or in other restricted areas will be towed away.

It’s estimated around 60,000 people were in Lewes for last year’s event, while the town has a population of 17,000.

Superintendent Ed De La Rue from Sussex Police said:

“The multi-agency group wants people to enjoy their bonfire celebrations and believes the best way to do this is to stay local.

“Lewes bonfire is for the people of Lewes as the town cannot cope with a huge influx of people.

“Difficult and pragmatic decisions have been made for the sake of public safety.

“As a result, you will not be able to get in and out of Lewes on November 4 due to the travel restrictions and we are asking you don’t attempt to come into the town that day.

“For those residents of Lewes who are attending the celebrations, we will have armed officers on duty in the town due to the current national terrorism threat level, tragically underlined by the attacks in London and Manchester.

“We are urging people to be alert not alarmed, these officers will be there to keep you safe.”

There are also concerns over fire safety during the event, with torches being carried in narrow streets and fireworks being set off.

Chris Stamp from the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said:

“Government figures show there are around 4,500 people who go to Accident and Emergency each year due to fireworks injuries and we treated around 81 people in Lewes last year.

“The processions pass through very crowded streets and raise the risk of injuries.

“Our advice is go to a family friendly fireworks display closer to your home.”

The multi-agency group includes representatives from the British Transport Police, East Sussex County Council, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, East Sussex Highways, Southern Railway, Lewes District Council, SECAmb, and Sussex Police.