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26/11/01
MP seeks firework ban

A PRIVATE Member's bill to ban the sale of fireworks and to restrict use of fireworks to public displays and thus minimise distress to animals is planned by a Lancashire MP.

David Crausby, Labour MP for Bolton North West is one of a growing number of people who is becoming concerned over the misuse of fireworks at this time of year.

Mr Crausby told OUR DOGS: "I have long been concerned about the misuse of fireworks in the run up to and after November. A number of people have spoken or contacted me regarding the banning of fireworks. One reason for this is because I am one of the few Members of Parliament that have been keen to back a ban.

"Fireworks continue to be a problem for many, particularly with domestic pets and wildlife. I have been very vocal, not only in my own constituency of Bolton North West, but also in Westminster, in calling for publicised, organised displays only. This will create a safe environment for all to enjoy this event. I am not a killjoy but I am concerned every year at the number of firework injuries and the public nuisance that the illegal use of fireworks can cause. I believe that the way to deal with the nuisance of fireworks is to limit them to organised displays.

Questions

"I have recently raised this issue with the Minister Melanie Johnson MP and also raised questions in the House. I will endeavour to raise this matter at every available opportunity until the objective is met."

Mr Crausby is being joined in his endeavour by one of his constituents, Melanie Willcock who runs the Firesides Bull Breeds Advisory Service in Bolton, which deals with rescue and rehoming of Bull breeds. "In the past few years, it's just become absolute madness with fireworks," said Melanie. "And so many of them are these loud air mortars which seem just designed to make as loud a noise as possible. Animals - especially dogs - get freaked out by them. This year, over Bonfire Night weekend, we took in five dogs which had panicked and run away because of fireworks. Luckily, they've all been reunited with their owners now, but there were still fireworks going off and we took in another seven dogs."

Melanie's own elderly Staffordshire Bull terrier 'Plug' had a suspected heart attack over Bonfire weekend. "He was in a room with window shutters screening the windows and the radio on full blare to drown out firework noise, and he is on Diazapam from the vet for his nerves, and yet he still got so stressed and keeled over," explained Melanie. "He's a bit better now, but the vet thinks he may have had a heart attack. If this happens again, it could kill him. My other six dogs - Staffords, mastiff crosses and a Bulldog - are all scared witless by fireworks.

"I support David Crausby in his plans to bring in a ban on the private sale of fireworks. It won't stop the noise altogether, but if it's just displays then that has got to be better by having it confined to certain days than all the time. What with this growing trend towards fireworks at New Year's Eve, it means we seldom get any peace and quite from late September onwards when fireworks go on sale and animals get so totally distressed. It has got to stop."

• The last attempt to impose restrictions on firework sales and to bolster up the law on their misuse came four years ago when Labour MP Linda Gilroy brought forward a Private Members Bill to give the Secretary of State powers to make regulations, which would ensure.

• High safety standards for those who put on displays; a national licensing and training scheme for those who handle larger and more dangerous fireworks.

• The causing of distress, injury or death to animals and vulnerable people becomes a criminal offence; The Bill's intention was to make sure that people could enjoy fireworks, but enjoy them safely.

The Bill had Government backing and was refined in consultation with people from the industry, the RSPCA, Age Concern, The National Campaign for Firework Safety, RoSPA and other consumer safety groups.

The Bill passed through all its stages in the Commons and the Lords (including a session before the Lord's Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee) but was talked out at the very final consideration of Lord's amendments on 3rd July 1998. Attempts, during the summer recess of 1998, to persuade maverick Tory MPs to back a formal chance to pass the Bill, met with continuing intransigence. The Bill therefore fell with the session in November 1998

• Melanie is organising a petition to help David Crausby bring his Bill before Parliament or to force the Government to introduce its own legislation to effect a ban. She is inviting animal lovers to contact her with their own pets' bad experiences of fireworks. 01204 705951 or by e-mail: fireworksban@aol.com.