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Firework laws - how will they work?

Last month, the Government’s long-awaited new Firework laws, arising from Labour MP Bill Tynan’s own Private Member’s Bill came into effect, heralded as a much-needed restriction on the use and sale of fireworks, following vigorous complaints from the public.

But will he laws make any difference? Long-time anti-fireworks campaigner Theresa Kulkarni doesn’t think so. In fact, she says, they’re not workable at all….

Regarding the Government’s new firework laws, specifically the firework curfew: Who is going to enforce it? How is it going to be enforced? Where is the extra manpower and funding coming from to enforce it? We keep asking yet no one can tell us!

How is a curfew really going to help? All the Government has done is to say, ok you can let off fireworks 365 days of the year, for every occasion you can think of, just don't let them off between the hours of 11pm to 7am. This leaves 16 hours of the day that we can legally be bombarded with fireworks.

Shops should not be allowed to sell fireworks louder than 120 decibels. 85db and above can damage human hearing, animals hearing is supposed to be 10 times more sensitive so what are these noise levels doing to them? Display fireworks can be 130db or more. People and animals live near these displays, so why should they have to suffer such noise levels and damage to their hearing? How are the authorities going to control the decibel level of all the illegal black market fireworks that are sold in the country every year? If it has been an offence since 1911 to knowingly terrify an animal? Why have the firework industry been allowed to make fireworks so loud?

As for it being an offence for under 18-year-old to have fireworks in a public place, first you have to catch them. Have you tried to call a policeman to deal with a juvenile lately? Speed of response to minor offences is not lightning fast and any policeman will tell you that there are far to few of them to allow them to chase noisy kids at the drop of a hat. These new firework laws will not stop any of the fear, danger and suffering that fireworks cause to people and animals all over this country.

The only thing the Government seems to be interested in is injury statistics. I am not surprised because these figures never show the true picture! They are only taken from the four weeks around Nov 5th. Nothing before or after is ever included. Why do these statistics never include how many animals are injured and killed every year? How many people are frightened and disturbed every year? How much property is damaged or destroyed every year?

How much does this cost the taxpayer every year? Think about the replacement of public property; call out costs of the emergency services. I have been told that it cost around £300 every time the fire brigade is called out. Then there is the NHS treatment and TV and poster advertising.

In Merseyside the police say that policing this firework season has cost them half a million pounds and closer to a million pounds if you include the fire service and bomb disposal team costs. In 2002 it cost their fire service £240,000. This is without the cost of clearing up, or the replacement cost of all the damaged property, and the increased insurance cost that we will all have to pay. Now multiply this by how much this has cost the rest of the country. All of this paid for by the taxpayers - not the fireworks industry. The cost of dealing with the abuse of their product should be sent as an annual bill to the fireworks industry. The same industry that has spent thousands on campaigning against any attempt to regulate their industry.

I am not the only one who believes that there is the only one way to put an end to all the misuse and abuse of fireworks: so do the 92,835 people who signed my petition calling for this. As you know, I presented this petition at 10 Downing Street on 8th July 2003. The same sort of support has been echoed by every public vote so far, on BBC Radio 2, Radio Northampton, BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Wildlife Watch, IC Liverpool on the Net and Candis Magazine. Every single one of these votes resulted in 70 to 80% in favour of Restricting Fireworks to Licensed Displays Only.

All this support and yet the Government are still not listening to the public. I have to wonder why? Are the fireworks industry major donators to party funds? How many MPs hold directorships or consultancies with fireworks companies or importers?

We should be told!