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Firework ban is ‘a step too far’ says Blair

OUTLAWING THE retail sale of fireworks to the public in the wake of the death of a pet dog in Huddersfield would be a "step too far", Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week.

The Prime Minister was pressed by a Labour MP at Commons question time to impose an outright ban after a firework incident involving a Yorkshire terrier in Linthwaite, HuddersfielD.

Police and the RSPCA are investigating claims that a firework was tied to Emmie, who belonged to retired couple Maureen and Keith Barrington. As reported previously, it is not clear if the dog was killed by the firework or by being run over, but three youths are believed to have taken pictures of the dead animal on mobile phones.

Mr Blair said it was important to measure the effectiveness of new laws aimed at curbing firework abuse before taking further action.

"But I think to ban the sale of fireworks altogether would be a step too far," he told Portsmouth North MP Sarah McCarthy-Fry.

The MP said that despite the new regulations, she was still receiving numerous complaints about fireworks. And the "horrific" incident with the dog had underlined the issue, she added.

Ms McCarthy-Fry asked the PM: "Would you not agree that it is time to consider an outright ban on the sale of fireworks to the general public?"

Mr Blair told her: "We have created three new offences and I think we've got to wait and see what happens over this period and then we can make a judgment about this legislation."

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Barrington have started a petition calling for a total ban on the public sale of fireworks.

Mrs Barrington, a retired teacher, said: "They should be banned because next time a child could be killed."

The couple have been inundated with sympathy cards, flowers and letters since the horrific death of Emmie two weeks ago.

"Everybody is really angry and nearly all of them say fireworks should be banned except for professional displays," she added, thanking people who had sent flowers and cards.

But Huddersfield-based John Woodhead, chairman of the British Fireworks Association said that he blamed the "perpetrators and not the product" for what happened to Emmie and said countries with a ban on fireworks still had problems with illegally imported fireworks.