HALSTEAD’S annual torchlight procession is back soon.

This tradition has been a highlight of the winter months in Halstead for more than 40 years.

Last year, about 1,000 people attended, 800 of them carrying flaming torches.

The event is run by Halstead Town Council with the help of its own staff, and volunteers from Braintree Council, Templars Rugby club and Halstead in Bloom.

Due to its increased popularity, there has been growing concern over the number of torches and the increased risk of fire.

For such events, Halstead Town Council must prepare a risk assessment and has clarified the measures it is taking to ensure the safety of attendees.

A spokesman said: “Those attending are asked to collect their torch from the raised area by the old post office and then wait to be called forward to a line across the road for torches to be lit.

“Torches are free of charge, but you may make a donation to the mayor’s chosen charities if you wish.

“All torches will be lit by Halstead Town Council groundsmen. Do not attempt to light your own.

“Children under 16 must never hold a flaming torch. If a child is seen to be holding a torch, this will be taken away from them.

“There will be a rolling road closure so that each line holding torches can spread out across the road.

“Please hold your torch steadily in an upright position, and walk at a safe distance from the line in front of you once your torch has been lit.”

They continued: “The fire service will be in attendance and the petrol station will be fenced off during the event to ensure no risk of fire.

“The police will also be in attendance to divert traffic which might otherwise be held up by the procession.

“When you get to the Public Gardens, please dowse your torch in the wheelie bins provided – this is to avoid people getting close to others with flaming torches when gathered around the bandstand.

“In case of fire, the Lidl car park is the designated assembly point for the Public Gardens.

“There will be many marshals identifiable by their hi-vis jackets. If you have a problem during the event, please raise it with one of the marshals.”

Parking is available in Chapel Street, Butler Road or Weavers’ Court. There will be no parking on the High Street.

Halstead’s Torchlight Procession will be on December 6, starting from Market Hill in the town centre at about 6.30pm.