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Herts calls for tighter firework laws

Herts says there is growing concern about the all-year-round use of fireworks
Hertfordshire County Council is calling for tighter firework controls after feedback revealed that local people have had enough of noisy pyrotechnics.

The authority says it formed a Fireworks Topic Group in response to concerns raised by many Herts residents on the issue of fireworks.

The group was asked to carry out research to help gauge the public mood, and find ways of addressing the issues raised.

Its work was informed by feedback from members of the public, traders and other agencies.

Herts says the groupís main findings were that, while fireworks are increasing in popularity, there is a worrying trend towards larger fireworks being used by members of the public.

The authority says that most of the people who responded now find the noise levels, and other problems unacceptable, and distressing.

There is also a growing concern about the trend towards the all-year-round use of fireworks.

A report, drawn up by the Fireworks Topic Group, reveals that members of the public are in favour of restricting the noise levels and the times when fireworks can be used.

It reveals that the public feels the existing controls do not address the anti-social use of fireworks.

According to the report, traders in Hertfordshire say that they would be willing to comply with tighter controls.

The chair of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee, Jane Hobday, is quoted as saying that many people in the county have had enough of really loud fireworks being let off apparently on a whim, at all times of the day and night, at any time of the year.

"Not so long ago firework night meant the fifth of November, and probably a modest back garden display. This has all changed now.

"We were impressed and concerned at the level of interest in this subject shown by members of the public. In general, they are telling us that they want something done about it, and we in turn will be playing our part in bringing this problem under control," she said.

The findings of the report will now be sesnt to the government and Hertfordshire's MPS.

The reports main recommendations are that:

  • fireworks should be managed under a licence for retailers
  • the industry should be encouraged to reduce the noise nuisance of fireworks, with new legislation to enforce this if necessary
  • regulations should be introduced to control large displays
  • only licensed operators should be allowed to let off larger fireworks
  • the industry should be encouraged to restrict the times of year when fireworks are sold
  • a two-tier licensing system should be introduced, with higher fees for larger fireworks
  • a time limit of 11.00pm should be imposed for letting off fireworks
  • more enforcement should be available to back up new restrictions
  • it should be possible to refuse licenses to traders who have broken the law on the sale of fireworks.
Herts says that more than 150 letters and emails were received during the consultation process, most of them saying that fireworks are a nuisance and that legislation to control their use would be welcomed.

The authority says the key issues raised were that fireworks:

  • cause distress to older people, babies, pets and animals
  • present a danger to the public
  • have health implications
  • create noise pollution
  • create litter
  • can cause damage to property.
The issue will be discussed further at a future meeting of the full county council. Copies of the report will be available for inspection in local libraries or in PDF form via the county councilís website.

You can discuss this and other issues in this site's Forum

19 October 2003

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